May's Bad Bet

What Losing the Conservative Party Majority Will Cost Britain

Britain's Primer Minister Theresa May after Britain's election in London, June 9, 2017. Hannah Mckay / Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who promised to be a “bloody difficult woman” during her country’s upcoming divorce negotiations with the European Union, has been ruthlessly reminded that British voters can be bloody difficult as well. Her gambit to call an early general election in the hope of increasing the Conservative Party’s flimsy 17-seat majority in the House of Commons backfired badly on June 8, resulting in a hung Parliament and an uncertain political future for the country.

Although the ruling Tories managed to increase their popular vote share by more than five percent from the last general election in 2015, earning 42.4 percent of the vote, they lost a good number of seats to Labour, which saw a bump of 9.5 percent from 2015, securing it a total of 40 percent. This translated into 318 seats for the Conservatives (a net loss of 12)—and a loss of the party’s overall majority of 330—compared to 261 seats for Labour (a net gain of 29). The biggest loser of the night was the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which was all but decimated, as its voters flocked en masse to both Labour and Conservatives. The Scottish National Party, which lost 21 of its 56 Westminster seats, also saw its vote share in Scotland plummet dramatically—from 50 to 36.9 percent.

A weakened May has chosen to forge ahead and cling to power by trying to cobble together a minority government with the tacit support of the ten members of Parliament of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. DUP is strongly pro-Union and pro-Brexit and has traditionally leaned very closely to the Tories’ economic positions while being more to the right on social issues. Their priority will be to get the best deal for Northern Ireland. It is unclear, however, how stable such a government can be and how long May can stay at its helm.

At the moment, a giant cloud of uncertainty hangs over the country, but it is possible to draw three main conclusions from the shocking results of

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