UK and EU in ‘Brexit’ breakthrough

Report of a breakthrough in talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union that will allow ‘Brexit’ to progress to the next stage.

BBC – Brexit: ‘Breakthrough’ deal paves way for future trade talks

PM Theresa May has struck a last-minute deal with the EU in a bid to move Brexit talks on to the next phase.

There will be no “hard border” with Ireland; and the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be protected.

The so-called “divorce bill” will amount to between £35bn and £39bn, Downing Street says.

The European Commission president said it was a “breakthrough” and he was confident EU leaders will approve it.

They are due to meet next Thursday for a European Council summit and need to give their backing to the deal if the next phase of negotiations are to begin.

Talks can then move onto a transition deal to cover a period of up to two years after Brexit, and the “framework for the future relationship” – preliminary discussions about a future trade deal, although the EU says a deal can only be finalised once the UK has left the EU.

A final withdrawal treaty and transition deal will have to be ratified by the EU nations and the UK Parliament, before the UK leaves in March 2019.

But it is still not simple from here due to the precarious position of the May led Government.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose opposition on Monday led to talks breaking down, said there was still “more work to be done” on the border issue and how it votes on the final deal “will depend on its contents”. Mrs May depends on the party’s support to win key votes in Westminster.

What has been agreed?

  • Guarantee that there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic and that the “constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom” will be maintained.
  • EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa will have their rights to live, work and study protected. The agreement includes reunification rights for relatives who do not live in the UK to join them in their host country in the future
  • Financial settlement – No specific figure is in the document but Downing Street says it will be between £35bn and £39bn, including budget contributions during a two-year “transition” period after March 2019

Brexit: All you need to know

The cost is high:

A figure is not mentioned in the text of the agreement but Downing Street says it will be between £35bn and £39bn – higher than Theresa May indicated in September but lower than some estimates. It will be paid over four years and the precise figure is unlikely to be known for some time.

The prime minister said it would be “fair to the British taxpayer” and would mean the UK in future “will be able to invest more in our priorities at home, such as housing, schools and the NHS”.

So Brexit still has a difficult and potentially very expensive path to follow.

World’s most powerful female politicians

Forbes Magazine has named Jacinda Ardern as the 13th most powerful female politician in the world. I think this is a bit premature, but it will increase Ardern’s international profile.

Most Powerful Women In Politics (Forbes):

  1. Angela Merkel, Chancellor Germany
  2. Theresa May, Prime Minister, U.K.
  3. Tsa Ing-Wen, President, Taiwan
  4. Michelle Bachelet, President, Chile
  5. Federica Mogherini, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union
  6. Ivanka Trump, Senior Advisor, The White House
  7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg/Elena Kagan/Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justices
  8. Queen Elizabeth II
  9. Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Prime Minister, Bangladesh
  10. Beata Maria Szydlo, Prime Minister, Poland
  11. Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor, Myanmar
  12. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation & Development, U.A.E.
  13. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, New Zealand
  14. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President, Croatia
  15. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, U.K.
  16. Nikki Haley, Ambassador to United Nations, U.S.
  17. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister, Norway
  18. Elvira Nabiullina, Governor, Bank of Russia
  19. Liyuan Peng, First Lady, China
  20. Hillary Clinton, Former Presidential Candidate, U.S.
  21. Dalia Grybauskaite, President, Lithuania
  22. Kersti Kaljulaid, President, Estonia

Not surprising to see Merkel at the top, and Theresa May is probably up there as well but it’s debatable how powerful she is in the UK let alone the world.

Surprising to see Queen Elizabeth II there. She is a figurehead, not a power in politics.

Hillary Clinton well down the list is no surprise, she has no political position.

Not sure that Ivanka Trump is particularly powerful either.

RNZ: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/top/342900/ardern-makes-list-of-most-powerful-women-in-global-politics

US-UK trade deal “very very quickly”

Donald Trump said that a very very big trade deal with the UK will be done very very quickly, but others are very very dubious.

“There is no country that could possibly be closer than our countries. We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal – a very powerful deal, great for both countries – and I think we will have that done very, very quickly.”

“Prime Minister May and I have developed a very special relationship and I think trade will be a very big factor between our two countries.”

That sounds very very Trump but Theresa May was less certain.

May said she would not be sceptical about the Trump offer but remained “optimistic”.

Others were more sceptical. Thomas Bernes, who has dealt with the US in a major trade negotiation and is now a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation:

“I was involved in the Canada-US trade agreement and it was extremely complicated. No one will be interested in a trade deal until you know where the UK is vis-a-vis the European Union and until that point is reached you can have plenty of goodwill but it is nothing more than that.”

“I think it is political puffery. There will be no fast US-UK trade agreement.”

The Guardian Trump expects trade deal with UK to be completed ‘very, very quickly’:

Trump’s comments are unlikely to signal any confirmed trade deal being announced soon. The US president has consistently pledged to put American interests before those of any ally countries and a UK-US deal remains a long way from being agreed.

A senior Downing street official said no date was being announced for a visit by Trump, but added: “The invitation has been extended and will be set out in due course.” They suggested there were no plans for an imminent visit.

The official described a “very good atmosphere” in a 50-minute meeting, in which a “significant proportion” was dedicated to the trading relationship.

“They agreed to prioritise work so a deal will be ready as soon as possible after Britain leaves the EU. They pledged to examine areas now where the two countries can deepen their trade relations. The president made clear he believed the UK would thrive outside the EU,” he said.

The conversation did not go into any specific detail of what a trade agreement might look like, he added, but “was talking in broad terms about the determination to get a good deal for both countries”.

Maybe Trump will just very very quickly build a trade deal and insist that the UK pay for it.

 

Morgan and the Macron miracle

The UK vote for Brexit surprised, the election of Donald trump in the US shocked, and then Emmanuel Macron came from virtually nowhere to win the French presidency.

Then Theresa May destroyed a significant advantage to end a disastrous campaign still ahead of the rapidly improving left wing maverick Jeremy Corbyn but severely weakened, both in government and as Prime Minister.

Now France is voting for their Parliament, and exit polls suggest that Macron’s party En Marche will win a majority. Not bad for a party that didn’t exist at the start of last year.

So around the world voters are make decisions that seem to stick it to traditional politics and the status quo.

Could it happen in New Zealand?

Winston Peters and NZ First are often promoted as the king maker, with the baubles of power virtually a formality. But Peters is very old hat and has been there, done that before.

Will voters look for something different?

Barry Soper writes:  In politics anything is possible

Think about it, Prime Minister Gareth Morgan, leading a majority government with half of his MPs never having been elected to office before.

Sounds absurd? Yes well it’s highly unlikely to happen but these days in politics anything is possible as we’re seeing in France at the moment which has to be the political story to beat them all.

The 47 million French voters are again today going to the polls and are expected to give their new 39-year-old President Emmanuel Macron a healthy majority. It’s spectacular because Macron’s party was only founded by him in April last year.

After he won the Presidency last month he was on his own, he didn’t have one MP in the French Assembly. Since then he’s had to cobble together 577 candidates to stand for his party and after the first round of voting they led in 400 constituencies, more than half of them women.

And it looks like En Marche has succeeded.

Let Macron’s success be a warning to those established political parties who think elections are a walk in the park. The Socialists who ran the last French Government failed to scrape together even ten percent of the vote.

Here in New Zealand National obviously have the most to lose, but voters here have shown a reluctance to take big risks. They have preferred a stable government but without absolute power.

NZ First are in the box seat to hold the balance of power, but it’s possible a real alternative is considered.

The 5% threshold is a long shot for a new party, something that hasn’t been achieved before here.

The newly formed Conservative Party got a 2.65% in 2011, and increased to 3.97% in 2014, creditable but not enough. They are out of contention now after the political collapse of Colin Craig.

The only option looks to be TOP. Morgan doesn’t look like getting his party close at this stage, but there is three months to go.

Recent overseas elections have shown that anything is possible, even the unexpected, but a major surprise looks unlikely here.

 

 

A UK rethink

While UK Labour are resurgent under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the Conservatives are trying to manage a mess of their own making.

ODT editorial:  Political lessons not learned

British Prime Minister Theresa May is holding on to power with the slimmest of margins and, if predictions from her own MPs are to be believed, she is categorised as a “dead woman walking”.

Mrs May has literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by calling an early election, seeking a stronger mandate to trigger a hard exit from the European Union — Brexit.

Instead, she witnessed a resurgent Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, a man previously so reviled in his own party he had to win two leadership challenges and watch as some of his MPs resigned before the election in the “secure knowledge” Labour was doomed.

The snap election was one of the biggest political misjudgements ever.

Mrs May had no need to call an early election; she was secure for another two or so years.

Already Mrs May has been forced to sack key advisers. One of her challengers, Michael Gove, has been reappointed to Cabinet and the other challenger Boris Johnson, instead of being sacked as expected, retains his Foreign Ministry role.

This is a complete shambles for a woman who staked so much on the result of an early election. Her power as Prime Minister and party leader has been eroded.

There are lessons in British political history of parties coming second in the Commons ending up forming a minority government.

The Tories based their election campaign on fear — fear of immigrants, fear of EU influence in the courts and, selfishly, fear of losing control. The electorate rejected the fear politics and looked for a new approach. There is no appetite for more austerity or a hard exit from the EU in Britain. A rethink has been forced by millions of voters.

May is remaining staunch. She has just told the Conservative caucus that she got them into their current mess and she will get them out of it.

But she has lost the confidence of many in her own party.

The final step will be another election later this year.

She has also lost the confidence of voters. If as many predict another election will be necessary soon May could make an even bigger misjudgement staying on as leader – it’s on the cards she would end up taking the Conservatives from a position of strength to a chaotic and embarrassing lost of power.

Trump won’t visit UK if there’s protests

Donald Trump has told Theresa May he won’t come to the UK on a state visit “until the British public supports him coming”, according to a Guardian report but apparently claimed as ‘false’ by the White House..

This probably ensures protests against him visiting.

It’s not a good time for him to visit the UK anyway, there’s enough turmoil there as it is without him stirring things up more.

The Guardian:  Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain put on hold

Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

That’s an open invitation for protests and threats of protests if Trump says they will keep him out of the UK.

The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.

May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. She told a joint press conference she had extended an invitation from the Queen to Trump and his wife Melania to make a state visit later in the year and was “delighted that the president has accepted that invitation”.

Many senior diplomats, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security adviser, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.

The acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, a career diplomat, clashed with Trump last week by praising Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, for his strong leadership over the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack.

His remarks came just days after Trump criticised Khan for his response to the attack, misquoting the mayor’s message to Londoners not to be alarmed by the increased presence of armed police.

Khan’s office pointed out Trump’s error later but the president responded by accusing London’s mayor of making a “pathetic excuse”. Khan then called on the UK government to cancel Trump’s invitation. No date had been fixed for the visit.

Jenna Johnson, a Washington Post reporter tweeted to say that the White House press secretary had told her the Guardian’s report was “false” but added that the White House “won’t say when Trump plans to go to the UK”.

Now is not a good time anyway. May and the UK have enough of their own problems to deal with.

Whether the claim that Trump said he won’t visit if there are protests is true or not it probably guarantees protests if any visit is scheduled.

Trump is not popular in the US, with RCP average disapproval currently 16% more than approval. He is probably less popular in the UK.

UK’s YouGov ratings for Trump:

  • Volume: 3rd Public Figure of 2307 tracked
  • Positivity -74:  2,165th Public Figure of 2255 tracked

May in UK: chaotic and unpopular

There are reports of chaos in the UK as Theresa May puts together her new Cabinet, and a post-election poll puts the Conservatives behind Labour.

The Telegraph:  Labour take five-point lead over Tories in latest poll

Labour have gained a five-point lead over the Conservatives following a disastrous general election night, according to the latest poll.

A Survation study puts Jeremy Corbyn’s party on 45 per cent and the Tories on just 39 per cent.

A month ago a Survation poll had the Conservatives 18% ahead on 48% to Labour’s 30%.

The dramatic reversal in the Labour leader’s fortunes comes after the most damaging 48 hours of Theresa May’s career.

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has also revealed almost half of Britons believe Mrs May should quit as Prime Minister.

A total of 48 per cent of the 1,720 people interviewed between June 9 and 10 thought she should stand down, with 38 per cent saying she should stay.

Mrs May is still reeling from the unexpected loss of seats at an election that she called to “strengthen her hand” for Brexit talks.

The Telegraph: Theresa May begins Cabinet reshuffle as DUP deal descends into chaos

Ireland’s prime minister warns Theresa May DUP deal could put Northern Ireland peace process at risk

Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, has said he is “concerned” about Theresa May’s plan to cut a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up a Conservative minority government.

Mr Kenny, who has served as Ireland’s Taoiseach since 2011, said he feared the deal could put the peace process in Northern Ireland at risk.

“Spoke w PM May -indicated my concern that nothing should happen to put GoodFridayAgrmt at risk & absence of nationalist voice in Westminster,” he said on Twitter.

Also:

 

Tory turmoil post-election

Two of Theresa May’s top advisers have resigned after (reportedly) she was told it was them or her who had to go. One Tory MP responded “Rasputin had gone! There is a God. :)”

And there is growing opposition to the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) enabling May’s Conservatives to form a new government after an embarrassing loss of a majority in the snap election.

BBC: Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill quit No 10 after election criticism

The BBC understands the PM was warned she faced a leadership challenge unless she sacked Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.

Labour said the pair had “taken the fall” for the prime minister.

Mr Timothy said he took responsibility for his role in the “disappointing” result and the widely-criticised manifesto package on social care.

The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the pair’s departure bought the PM some “breathing space” following 24 hours of recriminations after the Conservatives lost their overall majority.

He said the two were so close to the PM that critical MPs believed that, unless they made way, she would not be able to change her leadership style to adopt a more “outgoing, inclusive, responsive, empathetic approach”.

Mrs May has said she intends to stay as prime minister and is seeking support for the Democratic Unionists to form a government.

But the pressure is still on May.

The Telegraph: Almost two thirds of Conservative Party members want Theresa May to resign as Prime Minister

Theresa May was facing a Conservative grassroots mutiny after leading her party to a disastrous set of election results which saw the Tories throw away their House of Commons majority and forced to form a minority Government.

A snap survey of 1,500 Tory party members undertaken in the immediate aftermath of the election revealed that 60 per cent believed Mrs May should resign and trigger a Conservative leadership contest.

The Telegraph: Backlash against Tory-DUP deal grows as petition hits 500,000 signatures

Over 500,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the Tories not to do a deal with Northern Ireland’s DUP.

The poll hosted by Change.org also calls on Theresa May to resign as Prime Minisiter following the General Election which resulted in a hung parliament.

“Theresa May should resign. This is a disgusting, desperate attempt to stay in power,” the petition reads.

It’s hard to know how much of this is anti-DUP and how much is anti-election result. Snap petitions are a common form of political posturing.

The Guardian: May ‘alone and friendless’ as key advisers resign over election result – as it happened

The election result might be sinking in, but the ramifications are a long way from being played out. Here’s a summary of today’s key developments:

  • After reports that Theresa May would face a leadership challenge as early as Monday unless she got rid of her unpopular chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, the pair resigned. Timothy said that he “took responsibility for the content of the whole manifesto”. One Tory MP reacted to the news of his departure by sending a message saying: “Rasputin had gone! There is a God. :)”
  • Notwithstanding those changes, May has faced a swathe of criticism over her campaign and speculation about her future. Stewart Jackson, who lost his seat, said that the party’s manifesto was “shockingly bad” and “electoral poison”. Former minister Ed Vaizey said that Tory MPs were actively discussing May’s position using the WhatsApp messaging system.
  • Angela Merkel said that Brexit negotiations should go ahead as planned in nine days time despite the political turmoil in the UK. “We are ready for the negotiations. We want to do it quickly, respecting the calendar,” she said.
  • After the confirmation that five senior cabinet members would stay in their posts on Friday, there was no reshuffle on Saturday – though changes could be announced tomorrow.
  • The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson denied reports that she wanted a breakway for the party in Scotland, tweeting: “B****cks”. The report had credibility in part because of Davidson’s success in securing 13 Tory MPs in Scotland. She had already sought assurances from Theresa May that an alliance with the DUP would not mean any compromise on LGBTI rights.
  • The Conservative chief whip Gavin Williamson went to Belfast to begin talks with the DUP “on how best they can provide support” to the government. The former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson suggested that abortion time limits could be up for debate in the new parliament.

 

What does the UK election mean for NZ?

What does the UK election result mean for New Zealand politics? Not as much as some enthusiasts for a Labour revival here seem to think. The situation in the UK is vastly different to here in New Zealand, except perhaps that they both had unpopular leaders of parties struggling to be liked.

Brexit

New Zealand has nothing like Brexit. The UK is planning to go through a massive change by severing it’s European Union ties, while New Zealand is chugging along fairly well and uncontroversially.

Terrorism and Immigration

New Zealand doesn’t have a terrorism problem, and we also don’t have anywhere near the level of immigration issues that the UK has (many of their immigration issues are closely tied to being in the EU).

UKIP and SNP

The collapse of the UKIP vote and the significant losses for the Scottish National Party (they lost a third of their vote share and over a third of their MPS) and the redistribution of votes to Labour and to a lesser extent the Conservatives has no obvious parallel here.

FPP versus MMP

New Zealand has the moderating influence of MMP, under which no party has ever held an absolute majority and coalition governments are normal and expected.

This is in contrast to the UK which has the archaic FPP system still and the ‘hung Parliament’ scenario was big news. A governing  arrangement between the Conservatives and probably DUP is seen as potentially weak and there have been suggestions the UK may have to go to another election sooner rather than later.

The rise of Corbyn

Some on the left here are seeing Corbyn’s rise, albeit short of a victory, as a great ‘win’ for the left and will be encouraged.

No doubt there will be more and louder calls for NZ Labour to swing further left and campaign on similar issues that were successful for UK Labour. This may well influence Labour here, but it may not turn out to be wise.

Health

One issue in the UK that seems to have been important is their health system. Labour here have health as one of their key issues. Andrew Little has lost credibility over his persistence in talking up (erroneously) health cuts.  I presume Labour will keep trying to get some traction on it.

Housing

Housing doesn’t seem to have been a significant issue in the UK, but it is here, especially in Auckland. That is as much a local body issue as a national political issue but is likely to be a factor in our election in September.

Snap Election

One message that should have been clearly received by New Zealand parties and leaders is the folly of calling a snap election for no good constitutional reason. We haven’t had a snap election under MMP and are unlikely to in the foreseeable future.

Polls

Another key message is that polls are an approximate indication of support only, and they can move quite quickly in a short time in an election campaign.

There are signs also that a significant proportion of voters either don’t give accurate responses to pollsters, or change their minds late.

English and Little

I think in our election a lot will depend on how Bill English and Andrew Little shape up.

English is not very colourful but has vast political and governing experience and has an in depth knowledge of economic issues and a wide range of other issues.

Little is dour. He may find a way of connecting during the campaign, but I think his biggest weakness contrasts with English’s strength – he doesn’t seem to have picked up a huge amount of in depth knowledge of issues, and he is poor at thinking on his feet during interviews. Unless he masters this he may get caned in debates with English, and that may well decide this election.

In fact May campaigned poorly, avoided debates and was strongly criticised for bland recitals rather than sounding intelligent and being on top of the issues. That sounds more like how Little is.

Labour here will get a lot of confidence from the resurgence of UK Labour and the improvement of Corbyn. Little badly needs a confidence boost. He may lift himself after the UK result.

National should also have learned from the UK result, from May’s poor performance, a poorly run campaign, and arrogance.

There are some things to learn here from the UK experience, but there are also  significant differences.

UK election aftermath

The UK election is over, resulting in a hung Parliament, about the worst thing that could have happened with Brexit to deal with shortly.

But despite her quest for more power and dumping a snap election on Labour backfiring Theresa May has not mucked around.

The biggest losers, apart from May’s credibility, were UKIP, who lost 108% of the vote. They dropped to just 1.8% and lost their only seat.

Labour increased their share of the vote by 5.5% to 42.4%, while the Conservatives increased their’s by less, 5.5%, but still got the most at 42.4%.

BBC:  May to form ‘government of certainty’ with DUP backing

Theresa May has said she will put together a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists to guide the UK through crucial Brexit talks.

Speaking after visiting Buckingham Palace, she said only her party had the “legitimacy” to govern, despite falling eight seats short of a majority.

In a short statement outside Downing Street after an audience with the Queen, Mrs May said she would join with her DUP “friends” to “get to work” on Brexit.

Referring to the “strong relationship” she had with the DUP but giving little detail of how their arrangement might work, she said she intended to form a government which could “provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country”.

“Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years,” she said.

“And this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”

It is thought Mrs May will seek some kind of informal arrangement with the DUP that could see it “lend” its support to the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis, known as “confidence and supply”.

Later, she said she “obviously wanted a different result” and was “sorry” for colleagues who lost their seats.

“I’m sorry for all those candidates… who weren’t successful, and also particularly sorry for MPs and ministers who’d contributed so much to our country, and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.

“As I reflect on the results, I will reflect on what I need to do in the future to take the party forward.”

So for now at least all the speculation and demands that she step down as Conservative leader and Prime Minister were meaningless.

But Labour said they were the “real winners”.

They gained a lot of votes (9.5% up to 40.0%) and some seats (up 29 to 261) but still lost the election. They still have Jeremy Corbyn as leader, hailed as an election hero and it will be difficult to budge him now, but still out of government possibly for the next five years.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn says May ‘underestimated’ voters

Jeremy Corbyn has said Theresa May “underestimated” voters and the Labour Party after the Tories failed to win an overall majority in the election.

He said people had voted “for hope” after his party secured 261 seats in Parliament.

The Labour leader called on Mrs May to resign after the Conservatives were left eight seats short of a majority.

“Your vote for us was a vote for change, a vote for our country and a vote for hope,” he said.

“But she underestimated the Labour Party, and more importantly, she underestimated you.”

He went on to say Theresa May called the general election “in her party’s interests, not in the interests of the country” and thought she could “take your vote for granted”.

To an extent Corbyn is correct, May made a silly decision to call a snap election and campaigned terribly, but Corbyn and Labour are still in opposition for now at least.

Not enough of “the people” chose to ditch May and the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems said Mrs May should be “ashamed” of carrying on.

BBC:  Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says May should go

Theresa May must resign and Brexit negotiations should be put on hold, the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said.

He said talks about leaving the EU should be delayed until the new government sets out its plans to the public.

And he insisted there would be no deal to prop up a Tory government.

“Like David Cameron before her, our Conservative prime minister rolled the dice with the future of our country out of sheer arrogance and vanity,” he said.

“It is simply inconceivable that the prime minister can begin the Brexit negotiations in just two weeks’ time.

“She should consider her future – and then, for once, she should consider the future of our country.”

But it was a mixed election for the Liberal Democrats. They gained 4 seats (now 12) but lost some MPs and votes, dropping half a percent to 7.4%.

Mr Farron’s comments came after a night which saw the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg lose his seat to the Labour Party in Sheffield Hallam, becoming the first major figure to fall in the 2017 election.

But former ministers Vince Cable and Jo Swinson both won back their seats after losing them in 2015.

And Mr Farron kept his seat of Westmorland and Lonsdale, although his majority fell from 8,949 to just 777.

The big question now: Who are the Democratic Union Party?

They won 10 seats, up 2, and 292,316 votes, 0.9% of the total.

Theresa May has said she will form a government with the support of the DUP, though it is not clear what kind of arrangement this will be.

Despite party leader Arlene Foster warning it would be difficult for the prime minister to stay in No 10, discussions are certainly going on behind the scenes.

The party has moved on to the political centre stage but most people will be in the dark about what it stands for.

The DUP website crashed on Friday morning after a surge of interest, and DUP was also one of the most searched terms on Google.

Basically, they are pro-union (not Europe but UK), pro-Brexit and socially conservative.

The party, which returned 10 MPs to Westminster, has garnered a bit of a reputation for its strong and controversial views.

It opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion – abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, except in specific medical cases.

Mervyn Storey, the party’s former education spokesman, once called for creationism – the belief that human life did not evolve over millions of years but was created by God – to be taught alongside evolution in science classes.

In December, the DUP’s Trevor Clarke was criticised by Sir Elton John after the politician admitted he did not know heterosexual people could contract HIV until a charity explained the facts to him.

Fairly conservative then, on social issues at least.

Then there’s the party’s historical links to loyalist paramilitaries.

During this general election campaign, the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly received the endorsement of the three biggest loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Although the DUP said it did not accept their support, in her acceptance speech, Mrs Little-Pengelly thanked those who came out to vote for her, singling out several loyalist working class areas in Belfast.

The DUP was a wholehearted supporter of Brexit and got heavily involved in the Leave campaign.

After Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland becomes an EU frontier and the DUP is not in favour of a so-called hard border. This means no checkpoints or intrusive enforcement.

So no hard border but in the round, the party’s vision of Brexit is a fairly hard one – it was the most Eurosceptic party in the UK before the ascent of UKIP.

The party also wants to leave the EU customs union – their manifesto says there should be “progress on new free trade deals with the rest of the world” – and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, ensuring that in future British law is supreme.

One red line is the idea of Northern Ireland being granted some sort of “special status” when Brexit comes to pass – the DUP will not stand for any arrangement that physically sets the region apart from anywhere else in the UK.

Its 2017 manifesto set out its position on Brexit and other issues, including:

  • Further increases to the personal tax allowance – similar to Conservative Party policy
  • Continued rises in the national living wage – similar
  • Renew Trident – similar
  • Revisit terrorism laws – similar
  • Abolish air passenger duty – different from the Conservatives
  • Cut VAT for tourism businesses – different
  • Call for “triple lock” on pensions – different

Its key slogan during the campaign turned out to be rather prescient: “A vote for the DUP team is a vote to send ‘Team Northern Ireland’ to Westminster. It is a team that has real influence”.

It looks like DUP may have real influence now.