Home English News ‘May’s credibility shot’ as exit poll suggests hung parliament

‘May’s credibility shot’ as exit poll suggests hung parliament

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London – British Prime Minister Theresa May has lost credibility and could be forced to step down, after an exit poll suggested a snap election she called in a bid to boost her majority could result in a hung parliament, analysts and rival politicians said on Friday.

“May’s credibility is shot,” even if her Conservative party does “haul over the line” by keeping a small majority, Simon Usherwood, a political analyst at the University of Surrey, said on Twitter.

Usherwood said there is a “big question of what the party will do about it: can it afford another leadership contest?”

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The BBC/Sky/ITV poll suggested the Conservatives will win about 314 seats, down 17 from the last election in 2015.

Theresa May-Britain-PMElections in Britain – A file photo of Theresa May, working in her campaign bus during a journey to Stoke for an election event, on June 6, 2017. (Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/dpa) Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/dpa

The poll forecast that Labour will win 266 seats, up 34 seats; while the Scottish National Party is set to lose 22 seats, ending on 34 seats; and the pro-EU Liberal Democrats are expected to increase their share from eight to 14 seats.

Reacting to the polls, many Conservative and Labour politicians cautioned that the picture could change as results are declared overnight, but the seat distribution changed by less than 10 per cent after a similar exit poll in 2015.

But Clive Lewis, a Labour lawmaker who stood for re-election in the eastern city of Norwich, said on Twitter: “Whatever happens, May is toast!”

Colin Talbot a professor of government at Manchester University, said Conservatives were still defending May.

“She’s toast but they can’t admit it,” Talbot tweeted.

“At some point it becomes about the other senior Tories positioning themselves for the next leadership election and future cabinet,” Matthew Goodwin, an academic author of several books on Brexit and British politics, replied to Talbot.

Speaking to the BBC, John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said May’s decision to call a snap election had been a “catastrophic error.”

Britain’s two most popular newspapers, the right-wing tabloids The Daily Mail and The Sun, appeared to agree, questioning May’s future in commentaries saying her gamble in calling the snap election appeared to have “spectacularly misfired” and caused a “disastrous loss of seats.”

The exit poll came as a surprise after as a final opinion poll had suggested the Conservatives were on course to increase their parliamentary majority despite a surge by Labour.

Usherwood said the likely options for forming a new government in Britain, if the exit poll is accurate, are “all highly problematic.”

The options include a minority government formed by May’s Conservatives, or an informal “confidence and supply” arrangement with Unionist lawmakers from Northern Ireland, he said.

A third option is a loose coalition between Labour, the biggest opposition party, and the smaller Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats.

About two-thirds of 47 million eligible voters, or some 30 million people, had been expected to take part in the election.

The short election campaign was marred by two terrorist attacks and overshadowed by uncertainty in relation to Brexit.

May campaigned on a promise of “strong and stable” leadership through the EU departure process.

But domestic policy dominated much of the debate in the latter stages, particularly security issues since the Manchester Arena and London Bridge terrorist attacks on May 22 and June 3 respectively, which killed a total of 30 people.

Left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn focused much of his campaign on the National Health Service, which has been subject to cuts and privatization in recent years.

He addressed reporters at a polling station in north London on Thursday, saying: “It’s a day of our democracy. I’ve just voted. I’m very proud of our campaign.”

– dpa