Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party has failed to win a parliamentary majority in Britain’s election on Friday, a shock result that plunges domestic politics into turmoil and could delay Brexit talks.
Below are details of what happens next:
WHO GETS POWER?
For the election to produce a majority government, the biggest party theoretically must win at least 326 seats of the 650 United Kingdom constituencies. In practice, the threshold for a majority is around 323, because the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party takes up no seats that it wins in Northern Ireland.
As incumbent, May has the right to make the first attempt to form a coalition, though her tough stance on Brexit is likely to make finding a suitable partner difficult.
Until a new government is formed, May and her team of ministers remain in charge and retain their full legal powers to act on behalf of the country, although by convention they would be expected to avoid taking major decisions.
MINORITY CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT
May signalled she could attempt to lead a government without commanding a majority, relying on her opponents for support in parliament on an issue-by-issue basis.
Speaking as results were still being counted, she said Britain needed a period of stability and that she would take responsibility for delivering it if, as forecast, she won the most seats.
This will test the cross-party support for her pre-election pledges.
While her hardline Brexit strategy is opposed by all other major parties, Britain has already started the process of leaving the bloc by triggering a two-year negotiation period with Brussels. It is unlikely she would agree to stopping the Brexit divorce.
Nevertheless, May’s plans still rely heavily on being able to pass legislation through parliament. Firstly to convert EU law into British law, and then to form new post-Brexit policy on issues like immigration and tax.
Delays or outright blockages on this legislation would place doubts over how Britain would control its borders and trade with the EU after Brexit.
2010 REDUX: CONSERVATIVE-LED COALITION
The Conservatives formed a coalition in 2010 with the centrist, pro-EU Liberal Democrats as junior partner. They governed together until 2015.
The two parties are unlikely to be reunited in coalition without major compromises on the central principle of their election manifestos: Brexit.
The Conservatives’ other coalition options are limited. They can traditionally rely on the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which holds 10 seats.
Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which was forecast by media commentators to win 35 seats, are at ideological loggerheads with the Conservatives.
A hung parliament could play in Labour’s favour even if it won less seats than the Conservatives because it is politically closer to smaller rivals on several issues. Labour has said it would try to form a minority government, and Corbyn has refused to discuss forming a coalition after June 8.
He is committed to heeding the results of Britain’s EU membership referendum a year ago in which 52 per cent voted Leave against 48 per cent in favour of Remain.
However, Labour has fought to water down May’s Brexit strategy which could make it easier to reach a compromise with either the Liberal Democrats, which has ruled out any coalition, or the pro-European SNP, which says it wants to stop another Conservative government.