UK Prime Minister Theresa May will have to rely on the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to form a new government following shock election results that left the Conservatives short of a majority and saw a surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Having called the election at a time when the ruling Conservative party enjoyed a twenty point lead over the Labour opposition, the subsequent campaign saw that lead diminish to the low single figures and ultimately resulted in a hung parliament. Initially hoping to add dozens more seats and shore up their negotiating position in the Brexit talks, the Conservatives ended up losing 13 seats, while Labour added 29. Analysts point to a backlash against the Conservative manifesto which forced May into a number of U-turns as well as her failure to connect with the public on the campaign trail as the causes behind the collapse in the Tory vote. Labour’s better-than-expected performance was put down to its well-received manifesto and the party’s ability to energise the youth vote under Jeremy Corbyn. Reports suggest that shortly after the release of the exit poll at 10 pm last night which correctly predicted that the Conservatives would fall several votes short of a majority, Theresa May was contacted by the leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, to offer her party’s support to form a government. The DUP won 10 seats in the election, which combined with the Conservatives 319 just pushes their combined representation past the 326 required for a majority.
It is still uncertain what form of agreement will be struck between the two parties. The most likely outcome is that the DUP will support the Conservatives on crucial votes to ensure the government doesn’t fall, but won’t be offered cabinet seats. The first test of the new arrangement will be in 10 days when the new parliament convenes to vote on the government’s legislative programme. However, given the disastrous result, it remains to be seen if Theresa May will still be the Prime Minister or if pressure will build in the meantime for her to resign.