10 Jun 2017

'What the country needs now is certainty'

2:33 am on 10 June 2017

UK Prime Minister Theresa May will form a government after a disaster election that cost her party its majority.

Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May, makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London on June 9, 2017

Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May gives a brief statement after announcing she will form a government. Photo: AFP

The prime minister will stay in office with the support of her "friends" in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) after the Conservatives failed to win a majority in the election which resulted in a hung parliament.

With one seat left to declare, the Tories are eight seats short of the 326 figure needed to command a majority

Look back on RNZ's live coverage of the election

Mrs May gave a brief statement outside 10 Downing Street after she sought authorisation from the Queen to form a government.

"What the country needs now is certainty," she said.

"This government will guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks that begin in just 10 days and deliver on the will of the British people by taking the UK out of the EU.

"That's what people voted for last June, that's what we will deliver. Now let's get to work."

She said having secured the largest number of votes and seats in the general election, it was clear that only the Conservative and Unionist party have the legitimacy and ability to provide certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons.

She said the two parties had enjoyed a strong relationship over many years.

In a short statement to reporters, Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said: "we will enter discussions with the Conservatives to explore how it may be possible to bring stability to our nation at this time of great challenge".

The DUP - which defends Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom and takes a conservative approach to social issues - increased its number of seats to 10 in Thursday's election.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged her to quit, saying Labour is "ready to serve".

After a disappointing night for the Conservatives, Mrs May faces ending up with 12 fewer seats than when she called the election.

The Tories are forecast to end up with 319 seats ahead of Labour on 261, the SNP 35 and the Lib Dems on 12. The DUP won 10 seats.

Combined, the Tories and the DUP would have 329 MPs in the Commons.

Britain's opposition Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn (R) embraces a member of his team Karie Murphy (L) as he arrives at Labour Party headquarters in central London on June 9, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn embraces a member of his team as he arrives at Labour Party headquarters in central London the morning after the election. Photo: AFP

Labour said earlier it was also ready to form a minority government of its own, after far exceeding expectations by picking up 29 seats in England, Wales and Scotland.

But even if it had joined together in a so-called progressive alliance with the SNP, Lib Dems, Green Party and Plaid Cymru, it would only have reached 313 seats - short of the 326 figure.

Mrs May has faced calls to quit from within her own party, with Anna Soubry saying she should consider her position after a "disastrous" campaign and Nigel Evans saying "things needs to change" in her dealings with the party.

However, many MPs have urged her to stay on.

Mr Corbyn, speaking after being re-elected in Islington North, said it was time for Mrs May to "make way" for a government that would be "truly representative of the people of this country".

He later told the BBC it was it was "pretty clear who has won this election".

"We are ready to serve the people who have put their trust in us," he said.

Meanwhile, UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has quit after his party failed to win any seats and saw its vote collapse across the country.

'We need a government that can act' - EU Brexit leader

European Union leaders fear the minority administration and a possible leadership challenge to Mrs May after her electoral gamble backfired might mean further delay to the start of Brexit talks scheduled for 19 June.

Guenther Oettinger, the German member of the EU executive, was among those warning that a weak British leader may be a problem once talks start.

"We need a government that can act," he told German radio.

"With a weak negotiating partner, there's a danger the negotiations will turn out badly."

Oettinger's boss, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said his Brexit negotiating team under Michel Barnier was ready: "The clock is ticking," Juncker said.

Barnier sounded conciliatory: "Brexit negotiations should start when UK is ready," he tweeted.

-BBC

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