British Prime Minister, Theresa May has announced she will form a new minority government with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) after Thursday’s snap elections debacle that saw her Conservative Party lose its parliamentary majority.
In a speech delivered at the doorsteps of her official Downing Street residence moments after she returned from Buckingham Palace where she sought the Queen’s permission to form a government, May said her government would provide certainty and successfully lead the Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
“Our two parties (the Conservative and the DUP) have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years and this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the United Kingdom,” an expressionless May said.
With 649 out of the 650 seats already declared, the Conservatives had won 318 seats, 8 seats short of the number required for an outright parliamentary majority. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party clinched 261 seats while the DUP, which takes a conservative approach to social issues and staunchly defends Northern Ireland’s remaining part of the UK, increased its parliamentary seats to 10.
This situation has resulted in a hung parliament, where the leader of the party with the most seats in parliament is given the opportunity to try to form a government. This opportunity can however take two forms.
The first option is to form a formal coalition with the other parties in which the partners share ministerial positions and pursue a common legislative agenda while the second option called “confidence and supply” entails that the smaller party or parties agree to support the main legislation but do not formally take part in the government.
This parliamentary deficit for the Conservatives in the House of Commons is not coming as a surprise as observers say May had spent much of the campaign denouncing Corbyn as the “weaker leader of a spend-thrift party that would crash Britain’s economy and flounder in the Brexit talks.”
Her campaign dwindled further after negative reactions trailed her policy on care for the elderly, followed by the two Islamist terror attacks in Manchester and London which shifted the focus to security issues, doing more damage to May who, in her previous role as Interior Minister, had overseen the cut in the number of British police officers.
May had called for the snap elections with the hope and confidence of securing a landslide victory that would enable her strengthen her stand in the EU divorce talks scheduled to begin later this month.