THE PRIME MINISTER called this snap election to strengthen her majority, but now finds herself without a majority at all and reliant on the Democratic Unionist Party to command confidence in the House of Commons. Theresa May had seemed unassailable, but has suffered a shocking blow. These are my top five takeaway points from yet another dramatic vote.
First: we might very well have a new PM by the end of the year; the third Conservative leader and Prime Minister in under two years. The loss of a majority has not won favour with many MPs who blame Mrs May for her very personal, shambolic campaign. Particular vitriol has been levied at her close advisors Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy who have been described by Mrs May’s former Director of Communications as “Lady Macbeth and Rasputin”. The two have resigned following the result. A leadership challenge or Mrs May’s resignation would likely occur during the summer recess with a view to electing a new leader before conference in October. Such an event could also mean another general election later in the year. The likely candidates are Boris Johnson and David Davis. Many Conservatives are enamoured with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson after her spectacular revival of Scottish conservatism but unfortunately for them she takes her seat in the Scottish Parliament so cannot feasibly become Prime Minister.
Second: Labour did not win this election. This sounds obvious but one might be forgiven for believing that losing is apparently the new winning. Jeremy Corbyn improved Labour’s result on 2015 and 2010, and this is indeed surprisingly positive for the party, but Ed Miliband was always a political dead weight, and Gordon Brown had to contend with the widespread accusation that he destroyed the UK economy. Mr Corbyn faced an incompetent and awkward Prime Minister with a shambolic manifesto, who couldn’t even stomach debating him, and had been literally laughed at by voters on live television on multiple occasions. Overall turnout was the highest since 1997 and young voter turnout for voting was a record high of an estimated 72 per cent. Despite all this, the Labour Party was roundly defeated. There is no chance that Jeremy Corbyn could command the confidence of the House of Commons.
Third: unionism in Scotland seems safe but the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland seems more imperilled than ever. The SNP lost one third of their MPs north of the border, including deputy leader Angus Robertson and former First Minister Alex Salmond, amid a resurgence of unionism defying Nicola Sturgeon’s demand of a separation referendum rerun. As a result, the First Minister has been forced to concede the unpopularity of another vote on a secession. In Northern Ireland, however, the devolved government is without an administration as the deadline of 29 June for securing a power sharing arrangement draws ever closer. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has traditionally brokered between the DUP and Sinn Fein but a Conservative alliance with the DUP in the Commons threatens to irrevocably undermine this convention and threaten stability in the nation.
Fourth: Brexit remains on track. This election certainly hasn’t strengthened this Prime Minister’s hand in the Brexit negotiations, and Theresa May is likely to be more than a little red-faced during her remaining interactions with EU leaders, but our exit from the bloc isn’t in question. There remains some uncertainty about how some of the details might change with this new DUP alliance and potentially a whole new Prime Minister and Cabinet before too long, but 90 per cent of MPs in the Commons have declared their support for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and Brexiteers have no need to feel unduly concerned.
Fifth: poor Nick, eh?