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UK Set for Hung Parliament as Theresa May Fails to Secure Majority

Associated Press

After an electrifying night, the UK is set for a hung Parliament. The Conservatives will be the largest party, but they will fall short of the 326 seats needed for a majority. After Theresa May's "election gamble," the BBC predict the Conservatives will only win 318 seats - 13 down from David Cameron's surprise surge in 2015.

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg has described the result as "unquestionably a total political disaster for Theresa May" and a "huge success for Jeremy Corbyn." 

Labour has secured a remarkable result, gaining 29 seats to win a total of 261, a performance that defies all expectations. Jeremy Corbyn has called on Theresa May to resign: "She wanted a mandate. Well, the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that is enough for her to go.”

May decided to call a snap election in the hope of winning a landslide to secure a strong mandate for Brexit negotiations, one of several U-turns in her position as Prime Minister. Political pundits agree that her gamble has dramatically "backfired." 

In a muted victory speech after winning her constituency of Maidenhead, May emphasised that the country "needs a period of stability."

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats, the most vocal opponents to the prospect of a "hard Brexit", have secured a mixed result.  They have won 12 seats so far, up from 8 since 2015. However, the party's former leader and prominent 'Remainer' Nick Clegg has lost his seat. Tim Farron has clung to his own constituency, but his majority has fallen from 8,948 to just 777. 

In Scotland, the SNP remain the largest party, but the Conservatives have reversed national trends for the party, gaining 12 seats including the seat of former SNP leader Alex Salmond. Labour have won seven Scottish seats, and the Lib Dems three.  Plaid Cymru have secured four seats in Wales.

Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, has held her seat in Brighton Pavilion, increasing her majority by 10%. 

By contrast, UKIP has lost its only seat as the party's vote share collapsed.

A hung parliament means that no party can form a majority on its own after a general election. The reality of this is being seen as a major blow to May's attempt to secure greater authority in Brexit negotiations. It is possible that the Conservatives could form an agreement with a smaller party to govern with a narrow majority. But the unexpected night of results shows that Britain is a complicated country, and there are no simple solutions to the challenges the country faces. The surprising outcome is an opportunity to have a real conversation about the nation's future.