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UK's Theresa May will not resign after losing majority, seeks permission to form government

  • UK PM Theresa May wants to form a government.
  • Her Conservative Party lost its majority and was eight seats short of a majority, according to results Friday morning.
  • With the bulk of seats declared in the election, no party has gained a clear majority.

Despite a bruising election result for her Conservative Party, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has sought permission from the queen to form a new government on Friday.

She will continue as party leader and prime minister despite calls for her to resign. Addressing the media on Friday afternoon, she said that her Conservative party will align itself closely with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party in order to form a government that can ensure certainty for the British people.

"Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over the many years," May said at Downing Street moments after meeting with the queen.

"What the country needs more than ever is certainty and having secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the General Election, it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist party has the legitimacy and the ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons," she said.

With the bulk of seats declared in the General Election, no party gained a clear majority but the Conservatives swiftly contacted the Northern Ireland-based Democratic Unionist Party and agreed a coalition deal.

By 11 a.m. May's ruling Conservative party had won 318 seats — eight seats short of a majority — while the opposition Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn had 261 seats. The Conservatives did have a working majority of 17 seats before the snap election. Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party had won 35 seats, the Liberal Democrats were at 12 and the Democratic Unionist Party had 10. Voter turnout was at 68.7 percent, according to the BBC.

After winning his seat back in Islington, North London, early on Friday, the 68-year-old Corbyn called for May to step down.

"People have said they have quite enough of austerity politics," he declared. "The PM called this election because she wanted a mandate. Well, the mandate she's got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence."

Nigel Farage, the former U.K. Independence Party leader, also called for her resignation. "May has failed. She absolutely has to go," he said on Twitter. Farage has also indicated he would feel forced to launch a political comeback if Brexit was under threat.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gives an election campaign speech to Conservative Party supporters in Norwich, June 7, 2017.
Toby Melville | Reuters
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gives an election campaign speech to Conservative Party supporters in Norwich, June 7, 2017.

U.K. bookmakers had speculated overnight who the next prime minister could be. At one stage, the odds that Corbyn could take the leadership shortened dramatically but his Labour Party now looks resigned to staying in opposition. Other names from the ruling Conversative Party were also put forward, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. However, with May traveling to Buckingham Palace on Friday, an immediate leadership challenge looks unlikely.

Despite her resilience, May will lead a weakened government and could face pressure from both left-leaning and right-wing lawmakers. She will find it harder to push through any new rules and legislation, and she would be weakened in imminent talks over Britain's exit from the European Union.

Paul Donovan, the chief economist at UBS Wealth Management, said that the U.K. result is unlikely to provide "strong and stable leadership."

"There is a risk of Euroskeptics gaining more influence. Expectations of a further election before the end of the Parliament must be high," he said in a note Friday.

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