What does the election result mean for Britain?

 
Catherine Neilan
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Britain is heading for a hung parliament after last night's shock defeat - but what does that actually mean for the country?

What is a hung parliament?

If, as is happening this morning, no single party can reach the all important number of 326 seats, a hung parliament is called. This means that no one party can form a majority and will have to look at forming a coalition.

Who are the likely candidates?

It is expected that Theresa May will approach the Democratic Unionist Party, which currently has 10 seats to help the Tories, who are expected to get 318 seats, edge over the line.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to be looking to put together a left-leaning alliance.

The Lib Dems, who have won 12 seats, have said during campaigning that they would not form a coalition with anyone, but whether that stands after last night's result remains to be seen.

The two party leaders could also look to run the government with a minority government, relying on the support of smaller parties when they need to.

Does Theresa May have to resign?

No, but given that she warned during the campaign that if she lost just six seats she would "no longer be Prime Minister", it's looking likely.

She is already facing calls for her to go, so the pressure is beginning to pile on, but she is entitled to remain as Prime Minister until a new government is formed.

"It will be incumbent on us to ensure that we have that period of stability, and that is what we will do," she said after being re-elected in Maidenhead, prompting suggestions that this might be pre-empting a resignation.

She is expected to make a statement at 10am.

Are we heading for another election?

Possibly, but not necessarily. On the basis of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, if a government loses a confidence vote, alternative party leaders have 14 days to form a their own government. If a second confidence vote is lost, an early election will be held.

So who is in power right now?

The current ruling party, in this case the Conservatives, will remain in power until a new government can be formed. The last time this happened, in 2010, it took nearly a week between the election (May 6) and confirmation (May 12).

The incumbent Prime Minister is entitled to attempt to form a government then stay in office until Parliament meets, when they can ask MPs to approve their Queen’s Speech. Parliament is expected to meet for the first time after the election on 13 June.

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