Theresa May has said she will form a new government, having visited the Queen in Buckingham Palace after a shocking general election result for the Conservative party.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, May said: "I have just been to see the Queen, and now I will form a government, a government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this uncertain time."
The Tories fell short of an overall majority in the election – a fact May did not make any reference to – and she said she would govern by working with "our friends and allies" in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), adding "certainty" is what the country needs most.
"Having secured the greatest number of votes and greatest number of seats in the election, it is clear only the Conservative and Unionist party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons," the prime minister said, using the rarely used full name for her party, hinting at an alliance with the DUP.
Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, confirmed May had spoken to her on Friday morning and 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 exit poll pointed in the direction of a hung parliament, and overnight the Tories emerged as the largest party with 318 seats and 42.4% of the vote, yet did not have a majority and lost 13 seats compared with 2015.
There were big-name losses for the party, with ministers losing their seats to huge swings away from the Tories – such as Ben Gummer, a rising star in Conservative politics, who was one of the architects of May's now-notorious manifesto.
Other Tory ministers who lost their seats included: Jane Ellison, the treasury minister who lost to Labour in Battersea; Gavin Barwell, the housing minister who lost Croydon Central; Rob Wilson, who was minister for civil society and Tory MP for Reading East; James Wharton, the northern powerhouse minister and MP for Stockton South; and Nicola Blackwood, the health minister who lost Oxford West and Abingdon to the Lib Dems.
May said her party would continue to work with its “friends and allies” in the DUP, adding: “Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years and this gives me the confidence to believe we will be able to work together in the interest of the whole United Kingdom.”
She said her government would “guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks" – which begin in 10 days – to “deliver in the will of the British people” by taking the UK out of the European Union.
May also spoke about the attacks on UK soil in Manchester and London and on increased powers to tackle extremism, which emerged as a theme at the end of her election campaign.
She said of the new government: "It will work to keep our nation safe and secure by delivering the change that I set out following the appalling attacks in Manchester and London – cracking down on the ideology of Islamist extremism and all those who support it, and giving the police and the authorities the powers they need to keep our country safe.”
May promised she would in the next five years “build a country in which no one and no community is left behind, a country in which prosperity and opportunity are shared right across this United Kingdom”, which she said would “fulfil the promise of Brexit.”
She said working with the DUP would allow the UK to come together and “channel energy” for a successful Brexit that “works for everyone in the country” and a new partnership with the EU that will “guarantee longterm prosperity”. She said leaving the EU was what people had voted for last year, and added: “Now let’s get to work."
In a statement she made in Belfast, Foster said the election result was “truly historic”, with her party recording its best performance by securing 10 seats in the Commons and a third of the vote in Northern Ireland.
Foster, who has been keen to avoid a hard border with Ireland and has spoken against a hard Brexit, said in her statement that “the union is our guiding star” in negotiations.
She said she made no apology that the DUP would strive for the best deal for Northern Ireland, but added that her party wanted the best for all of the UK. "These are challenging times," she said. "Our United Kingdom and indeed our way of life are under threat from extremists."
Both Labour and the Lib Dems have called for May to resign as prime minister.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party gained seats across the UK, said May should “go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country”.
“The prime minister called the election because she wanted a mandate. Well, the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support, and lost confidence,” he said.
Responding to May’s statement in Downing Street, a Labour spokesperson added: “Theresa May claims nothing has changed, but the clear message from the electorate is that everything has changed.
“Instead of burying her head in the sand, May needs to listen to what the people of Britain are saying. The British people have not given her the landslide she wanted and many predicted, and Labour will not stand by and let her impose policies that do not have public support or legitimacy.”
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, meanwhile, said “May should consider her future”, warning the Tory leader’s mandate for an “extreme version of Brexit” had been rejected by voters.
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose SNP lost 21 seats, pledged to work with others to challenge the Tories, saying: "The reckless Tory pursuit of a hard Brexit must be abandoned." She appealed to MPs from all parties to join together to keep the UK and Scotland within the European single market.
Theresa May's full statement outside 10 Downing Street:
I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen, and I will now form a government – a government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country.
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 United Kingdom out of the European Union. It will work to keep our nation safe and secure by delivering the change that I set out following the appalling attacks in Manchester and London – cracking down on the ideology of Islamist extremism and all those who support it. And giving the police and the authorities the powers they need to keep our country safe.
The Government I lead will put fairness and opportunity at the heart of everything we do, so that we fulfil the promise of Brexit together and - over the next five years - build a country in which no one and no community is left behind. A country in which prosperity and opportunity are shared right across this United Kingdom.
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 & Unionist Party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons. As we do, we will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular.
Our two parties 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 whole United Kingdom.
This will allow us to come together as a country and channel our energies towards a successful Brexit deal that works for everyone in this country – securing a new partnership with the EU which guarantees our long term prosperity. That’s what people voted for last June. That’s what we will deliver. Now let’s get to work.
Aisha Gani is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Aisha Gani at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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