Conservatives lead, but Labour gains big in British election, exit polls show

British Prime Minister Theresa May's gamble in calling an early election appeared Friday to have backfired spectacularly, with a real possibility that her Conservative Party could lose its majority in Parliament.

"As I reflect on the results I will reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward", May said yesterday in a televised statement. Instead, Cameron still would be prime minister, presiding over a majority government (however narrow) of a United Kingdom that was still part of Europe.

The Telegraph newspaper said senior Conservatives including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, home secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit minister David Davis were taking soundings over whether to replace May.

A delay in forming a government could push back the start of Brexit talks, now scheduled for June 19, and reduce the time available for what are expected to be the most complex negotiations in post-World War Two European history.

JOHN SPRINGFORD: There's only about 18 months left to negotiate the Brexit deal, and if, say, we have another three or four months while the government is formed or we have fresh elections, then there's much less time.

One of the lead European Union negotiators, Guy Verhofstadt, criticized May on Twitter, writing: "Yet another own goal, after Cameron now May, will make already complex negotiations even more complicated".

He added: 'We have got a mandate to deal with issues of poverty, justice and inequality in Britain'.

The shocking election result has caused great embarrassment to Mrs May, who called a snap election in April believing she could wipe out her opposition and gain greater control in the House of Commons.

Labour's Corbyn, revelling in a storming campaign trail performance after pundits had pronounced his Labour Party all but dead, said May should step down and that he wanted to form a minority government. "When it becomes a matter for me is when people try to redefine marriage".

Conservative MP Nigel Evans told CNN his party shot itself "in the head" with an "irrelevant" manifesto, which was peppered with "arsenic".

"I'm sorry for all those candidates and hard working party workers who weren't successful", May said on Friday after a surprise resurgence by the main opposition Labour Party under its leftwing leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"People have said they have had quite enough of austerity politics", he said, repeating his campaign promises to push for better funding for health and education. The Conservatives did manage to increase their share of the vote to 42.4 per cent, as did Labour, which received 40 per cent.

The UK election has ended in a hung parliament, after the Conservative Party came up short of a majority in the snap general election.

"We need a government that can act", EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

"Britain will now go into its most important challenge in 40 years - extricating itself from the European Union - at a severe disadvantage", NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from London.

DUP leader Arlene Foster with MPs at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast. The official threat level from terrorism stands at "severe", the second-highest rating, indicating an attack is "highly likely".

  • Zachary Reyes