Katy Balls

Theresa May’s election gamble has backfired spectacularly

Theresa May's election gamble has backfired spectacularly
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Theresa May's election gamble has backfired spectacularly. As things stand, the result of the General Election is a hung Parliament. The Conservatives are predicted to be the largest party but will fall short of a majority. Jeremy Corbyn's position as Labour leader looks safer than ever.

In May's count speech in Maidenhead, she appeared to concede that a Tory majority was out of reach – talking of the need for a 'period of stability'. However, the Tories could potentially form a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party, who have won ten seats.

Anna Soubry has become the first Tory to break rank and hint that May ought to resign. The former minister told the BBC that the Prime Minister has to 'consider her decision' following 'a pretty dreadful campaign'. Other Conservatives are more cautious, but as one source tells James Forsyth: 'Do not underestimate the fury in the parliamentary party. They are absolutely spitting.’ As for the Cabinet, there is no uniform view on whether May should go or not. Some think she has failed to win either a mandate or a majority and so should resign. Others, though, think that there is no alternative but to soldier on with her; they argue that another election would be even worse for the party.

However, north of the border, the Conservatives can at least find some cause for cheer. Ruth Davidson has led the Scottish Conservatives to a spectacular victory. The Tories have taken seats from both Alex Salmond, former Scottish First Minister, and Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in Westminster. Overall, the expectations are that the SNP will lose 22 of their 59 seats. As Fraser notes, the unionists had hoped to deprive them of ten at most, and would have settled for five.

Perhaps it's unsurprising then that Davidson has already had to fend off suggestions that she could mount a Tory leadership bid. 'If I wanted to be in the UK Parliament I would have stood in this election,' Davidson told David Dimbleby. It may not be Davidson, but with May's time running out, talk of her replacement is growing louder in the party – even before the final results come in.

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor. She is also a columnist for the i paper.

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