The UK Election has officially run its course, and Theresa May’s Conservative Party has failed to retain a majority in the House of Commons.
Although the Conservatives have ‘won’ the election (they achieved the greatest number of seats), they have failed to gain a parliamentary majority, which stands at 326 seats out of the total 650 MPs in the United Kingdom. This is what is known as a hung parliament.
So, what does a Hung Parliament mean for the UK?
Firstly, it is important to note that the major parties have three options available to them in these first few days after the results have come in.
Theresa May has the option to try to form a formal coalition, which is an official partnership between two parties, who in turn share their seats and form an overall majority. Of course, in light of how this election has shaped out (and indeed how the parties positioned themselves leading up to polling day) this option is entirely unlikely in the near future.
The two alternative options available to Mrs May are to form a more informal “confidence and supply” arrangement, or more simply just to go it alone – run the country from a position of minority.
What’s The Problem With A Minority Leader?
The biggest problem for a potential minority leader in the House of Commons is simply the sheer difficulty they would face trying to pursue party policies. It does seem like the politicians have a hard-enough time passing legislation in normal times, without having to gather cross-party support! What this means for the UK is most likely parliamentary hold ups and slow progress.
By way of an example, consider the clashing opinions of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn on education. It is likely the case that, assuming May forms the next Government, she will face difficulty dismissing Corbyn’s policies in favour of her own.
What Does A Hung Parliament Mean For Brexit?
Although dependent on the way in which parliament decides to resolve the issue of a hung parliament, it looks likely that a hung parliament will jeopardize the Brexit timetable.
Due to begin negotiations with Brussels on the 19th June, a missing leader puts Britain’s negotiating stance in danger.
While Mrs May’s position this election has been ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, the ‘no deal’ possibility may become a reality if Britain’s parliamentary issues are not hastily resolved.
Will The Conservatives Stay In Power?
Even though the Conservatives have gained the largest number of seats, failure for Mrs May to forge a coalition could eventually lead to her resignation and the party’s withdrawal from leadership. This would be the result if it became obvious that Labour could secure a majority coalition with another party. Of course, no other party could combine their seats with those of Labour in order to break the 326 threshold anyway, increasing the likelihood of a Conservative Government in some capacity over the next term.
The next few days will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the parliamentary term. Let me know in the comments what you think should happen!