British Prime Minister Theresa May's gamble in calling an early election appeared Friday to have backfired spectacularly, with a real possibility that her Conservative Party could lose its majority in Parliament.
Britain's best-selling Sun newspaper said senior members of her party had vowed to get rid of May but would wait at least six months because they were anxious that a leadership contest now could propel Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn into power.
May called for the election last April, saying she hoped to expand her parliamentary majority. I would've thought that's enough to go, actually.
May became prime minister after David Cameron, who had campaigned against Brexit, stepped down following the referendum, in which 52% voted to leave the 28-nation EU.
"This is a serious moment for the United Kingdom economy", said Carolyn Fairbairn, the head of Britain's biggest business lobby, the CBI.
May will also need the support of the socially conservative, pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which won 10 seats in Northern Ireland.
Her campaign unraveled after a policy U-turn on care for the elderly, while Corbyn's old-school socialist platform and more impassioned campaigning style won wider support than anyone had foreseen, notably from young voters, say analysts.
May confirmed she meant to start talks with the Europeans on June 19 as planned, promising to "get to work".
One of many key questions for the coming days will be what approach is taken to the Brexit negotiations, even if May stays as prime minister.
"We are ready to undertake negotiations on behalf of this country, to protect jobs and have a sensible free trade arrangement with Europe", he said.
The result comes just weeks before Britain faces hard negotiations over terms for leaving the EU. But the uncertainty of a hung parliament has raised concerns about Britain's ability to negotiate divorce terms by then, that would ensure that people and businesses are not stuck in legal limbo. Labour was on 261, SNP on 35 and Liberal Democrats on 12. They saw through her "strong and stable" motto, repeated ad nauseum throughout the campaign, to the spurious and shifty reality beneath.
If everything had gone as planned, May would have walked into those negotiations week after next in a position of strength, able to confidently demand concessions from the Europeans because she had her whole country behind her. "We have to wait and see how things shake out".
The result is a gain of 34 seats for Labour and a loss of 16 for the Conservatives. That is simply unsustainable, said political analyst Ian Dunt, author of the book Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? "I said at the start this election was wrong". Nuttall served as leader of UKIP until he announced his resignation Friday morning.