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In a shock result that very few saw coming, the U.K.’s general election has ended with the ruling Conservative Party suffering an unexpected setback, losing its majority and with serious questions being raised about the future of its leader, British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Although the result still sees the Conservative as Britain’s biggest political party, without a clear majority of MPs it leaves the U.K. with a so-called “hung” parliament. Talks will likely be made between parties in order to form a coalition government with either May or Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn able to gather enough members of Parliament to form a government. Should a deal not be arranged, the U.K. may have to hold another election, tentatively penciled in for October of this year.
The result, which went against many poll predictions, has seen May’s decision in April to call a snap general election labeled one of the biggest political disasters of recent years. The Conservative leader had a majority of 17 when she announced the election, as well as seemingly unassailable 20-point lead in the opinion polls just seven weeks ago, which she said she hoped would give her a bigger mandate going into Brexit negotiations.
But a heavily criticized campaign in which May avoided debating Corbyn and came under attack for U-turns and policies including the “dementia tax” led her popularity to dramatically fall. The terror attacks in Manchester and London saw her come under fire for overseeing a major reduction in police numbers during her time as home secretary.
Meanwhile, the left-winger Corbyn, once seen as having zero chance of becoming prime minister and having been derided in much of the U.K.’s right-wing press, experienced a surge of support during the past few weeks, especially among young voters. Across the Atlantic, Bernie Sanders, plus stars Lena Dunham, Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo and Danny DeVito, offered him their support.
May, who only became Conservative leader in 2016 after former Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation in the wake of the Brexit vote, is expected to resign following the result. Corbyn already has dramatically called for her resignation, and murmurings among the British political class suggest Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will be among the bookmakers’ favorites to win the leadership race.
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