UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s future is looking uncertain after her election gamble appears to have backfired. The opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has performed far better than polls indicated and has cost May her majority in the UK Parliament.
On Friday she said she would stay in power, most likely by forming a minority government with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
A statement from her office said she would visit Queen Elizabeth for a permission to form a new government.
“The prime minister will be visiting Buckingham Palace at 12:30 today to seek permission from the queen to form a government,” the statement said.
Mrs. May’s decision means that she will not step down, despite the loss of at least Conservative 12 seats. She had called an election called three years early in the hope of winning a strong mandate as Britain prepares for two years of negotiations over its withdrawal from the European Union, but voters did not reward Mrs. May’s gamble. The largest opposition party, Labour, gained at least 29 seats, and a smaller party, the centrist Liberal Democrats, also made gains.
Mrs. May will most likely try to form a government with the working support of the Democratic Unionist Party, a Northern Ireland party that won 10 seats. With the 318 Conservative seats plus the D.U.P. seats, Mrs. May would have 328 votes — just above the 326 needed for a majority. (The Conservatives had 330 seats in the last Parliament.)
The situation is similar to that in 2010, when the Conservatives won the most seats but did not have enough for an outright majority. They formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. In a coalition government, the junior partner takes ministerial seats and is part of the day-to-day decisions made by the cabinet. In a minority government, in contrast, a smaller party agrees to support the governing party on legislative votes, but it would not necessarily be part of the government.
It was unclear whether the D.U.P. had agreed to either arrangement. Arlene Foster, the party’s leader, was scheduled to address supporters in Northern Ireland later Friday.