So it’s happened. The results are in and the Conservative party has failed to win the majority that Theresa May wanted and expected ahead of starting the Brexit negotiations. Britain now has a hung parliament.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour played a blinder of a campaign, surprising many and forcing even the likes of Piers Morgan to eat their words, but as the Tories are still the largest party with 318 seats, they are seeking to form a goverment with the (anti-abortion, anti-gay, climate change-denying, pro-Brexit) Democratic Unionist Party, which won 10 seats.
Oh good lord. But what does this all meeeeeean?
The exact situation is still developing and is likely to do so for days to come, but here’s your general guide to what happens, or could happen, when a hung parliament is declared:
How does a hung parliament happen?
It happens when no party wins an outright majority of 326 out of 650 seats.
So what happens to the party closest to 326?
The party with the most number of seats can either opt to form a minority government, or they can seek support from other parties to make up a majority.
Why wouldn’t they form a minority government?
In brief, it’s the total opposite of May’s favourite “strong and stable” soundbite. Support deals with other parties must be sought on a vote-by-vote basis, leading to near constant discord.
What’s a coalition?
That’s what we had between the Tories and the Lib Dems in 2010 and it’s what May is trying to sort out with the DUP. This can be done on a formal or informal basis, but she will want it to be as formal a coalition as possible to prevent the above.
It basically means that the smaller party promises to back the larger one to pass votes and in formal coalitions their senior member are made ministers. Obviously, to get them to commit to this and compromise on key things, some pretty sweet deals will need to be offered, such as more money for Northern Ireland in the case of the DUP.
Is there going to be another election?
No-one knows yet, but it’s likely as the party in power needs at least enough support to be able to pass a budget. Even if they secure a coalition, it’s going to have to be a reliable one to last the five-year term without collapsing. If two-thirds of MPs back an early election, it can be called before the end of the term.
Stay tuned, start watching the news, and get following the political chaos. These are crazy times.