Prime Minister Theresa May was fighting to hold on to her job on Friday as British voters dealt her a punishing blow, denying her the stronger mandate she had sought to conduct Brexit talks and instead weakening her party’s grip on power.
With no clear winner emerging from Thursday’s parliamentary election, a wounded May signalled she would fight on, despite being on course to lose her majority in the House of Commons. Her Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn said she should step down.
Britain’s Conservatives have lost their majority in a snap general election that has resulted in a hung parliament.
With just a handful of seats left to declare, Thursday’s poll shows gains for the opposition Labour Party.
This is seen as a humiliation for PM Minister Theresa May, who chose to call the election to try to strengthen her hand in talks with the EU on Brexit.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged her to resign, but she said her party would “ensure” stability in the UK.
“At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability,” Mrs May said early on Friday.
“And if, as the indications have shown and if this is correct that the Conservative Party has won the most seats and probably the most votes, then it will be incumbent on us to ensure we have that period of stability – and that is exactly what we will do.”
Mrs May – who had a small majority in the previous parliament – had called an early election to try to improve her negotiation positions on Brexit.
With talks of unprecedented complexity on Britain’s departure from the European Union due to start in just 10 days’ time, the pound sterling was hit by uncertainty over who would form the next government and over the fundamental direction Brexit would take.
“At this time, more than anything else this country needs a period of stability,” a grim-faced May said after winning her own parliamentary seat of Maidenhead, near London.