Conservatives lose ruling majority in snap UK election
Prime Minister Theresa May under pressure to resign after drop in support
Prime Minister Theresa May faced calls to resign on Friday morning after her Conservative Party failed to keep its parliamentary majority and her gamble to call a snap general election failed to pay off.
The premier had hoped to secure a convincing leadership mandate before Brexit negotiations with the EU, scheduled to begin on June 19.
With most of the U.K.'s 650 Westminster seats filled by early Friday morning, May's Conservatives had fallen short of the number needed for a ruling majority.
"At this time, more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability," a visibly shaken May said at the election count in her Maidenhead constituency in southern England.
Failing to offer any clues to her future, she said if her party won the most seats "it will be incumbent on us to ensure that we have that period of stability and that is exactly what we will do".
However, main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said May's attempt to win a bigger mandate had backfired and called on her to resign.
"The mandate she's got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence," Corbyn told supporters in his Islington North constituency in north London, which he retained with more than 40,000 votes.
"I would have thought that's enough to go, actually, and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all of the people of this country," he added.
Labour had won 257 seats by early Friday, up from 229, the best result for the party since its election wins under former leader Tony Blair and in the face of predictions which claimed it faced a landslide defeat.
The results have produced a hung parliament, only 10 days before country is due to start Brexit talks.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats made gains to win 12 seats, despite a high-profile loss for Nick Clegg, former party leader and deputy prime minister in the Conservative-led coalition government of 2010-15.
In Scotland, the Scottish National Party also lost ground, winning just 33 seats. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the result as "disappointing" and it cast doubt over plans to hold a second Scottish independence referendum.
"This is a disaster for Theresa May," Sturgeon maintained.
The snap poll has also politically erased the U.K. Independence Party. The populist anti-EU party shrank to almost nothing after failing to win a single seat.
In Northern Ireland, 18 seats were up for grabs. Both the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Irish nationalists of Sinn Fein made gains at the expense of smaller rivals.
Sinn Fein lawmakers do not take their seats in London, leading to speculation a minority Conservative government could be propped up by the DUP's 10 lawmakers.
The Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru party retained its three MPs.
May had billed the election as a clear choice on who would lead Britain as it negotiated its way out of the EU.
She sought to increase her Conservative Party's 17-seat majority to strengthen the government's mandate following a divisive Brexit referendum last year.
However, two terrorist attacks in Manchester and London that left 30 people dead in the weeks leading up to the vote shifted the emphasis to security, with police cuts during May's six years as Home Secretary seeming to erode her lead in the polls.
May had promised to be tough with EU partners during talks on the U.K.'s departure.
"No deal is better than a bad deal" was her mantra during the election campaign.
However, her leadership is looking under pressure, with several high-profile Conservative figures failing to unambiguously back her continued tenure as head of the party.