Britain wakes to hung parliament after dramatic election night

BRITAIN has a hung parliament after a dramatic general election.

Theresa May, who many had predicted would romp to a landslide just weeks ago, saw her majority evaporate. The Conservatives are the largest party with 318 seats but lost 12 seats in England and Wales, despite their overall share of the vote increasing compared with 2015. The party had a better night in Scotland, where it picked up 12 seats from the SNP.

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party gained 29 seats to stand at 261. Notable wins included taking Canterbury, which had been Conservative since 1918, and the Sheffield Hallam seat of former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. The party's share of the vote rose by 9.5%

The Liberal Democrats under Tim Farron gained four seats, including three in Scotland. While Clegg lost his seat in Sheffield, former MP Sir Vince Cable was returned to parliament in Twickenham.

UKIP failed to win a single seat and saw its share of the vote plunge by 10.8%, with both Labour and the Conservatives benefiting.

It was a tough night for the SNP, which lost 21 seats, including those of former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond and the party's leader in Westminster Angus Robertson. Overall, the party's share of the vote dropped 13.1%.

In Northern Ireland, the DUP gained two Westminster seats, taking it to 10, and could now find itself a key power broker in the forming of the next government. The UUP and SDLP were both wiped out, while Sinn Fein gained three seats, leaving it on seven.

Overall turnout was 68.7%, although this rose to 72% among 18 to 25-year-olds.

Theresa May has indicated she has no intention of resigning and promised a "period of stability". Jeremy Corbyn, however, has called on the Prime Minister to go.

Both the Conservatives and Labour have said they will try to form a government.

As the party in power before the election, the Conservatives will get the first opportunity. There is speculation the party will try to strike some sort of deal with the DUP, short of a formal coalition, to give it a slim working majority.

If, however, it becomes clear that the Prime Minister cannot command a majority of the Commons in votes of confidence or supply and the leader of the opposition, she will be expected to resign and Jeremy Corbyn would become Prime Minister.

The first parliamentary test would likely be a vote on any amendment to a Queen's Speech.

In the absence of a written constitution, there are no concrete rules about what happens if the Prime Minister were to lose a vote of confidence. They could hand power to a colleague from their own party, who would have to win another vote of confidence within 14 days. Alternatively, they could give power to the leader of the opposition, who would attempt to govern. However, power has never changed hands between parties in Britain without an election.

With the new parliament set to meet on 13 June - and Brexit negotiations and the Queen's Speech scheduled for 19 June - the pressure is on to get a working government in place as soon as possible.