General election 2017: Who could be the next leaders in a coalition government?

 
Catherine Neilan
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Strong and stable or just plain wobbly? (Source: Getty)

The UK has woken up to yet another hung parliament.

Currently, Theresa May is still Prime Minister, and although calls are growing for her to resign, she is so far staying strong and stable in her intention to stay on.

If she decides to stick it out and form a coalition government, it throws the door wide open to who could be the new deputy prime minister. In 2010, this honour was handed to then-Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. Assuming a similar scenario this time around, here are the likely candidates.

Arlene Foster

You may not have heard of her, but Foster is currently the leader of the DUP, which is being touted as the most likely coalition partner for the Conservatives. The Northern Irish party ran a pro-Brexit campaign and picked up 10 seats, up two on 2015. That would give the Tories a slim majority of 329 on current predictions.

Foster was elected an Ulster Unionist in 2003, resigning a year later to join the DUP. She has held a number of ministerial roles covering the environment, enterprise, trade and investment and finance and personnel, before becoming the party leader in December 2015.

Update: Sky is reporting that Foster has said she would consider a "confidence and supply" arrangement, which is more informal than a coalition government.

Tim Farron

‚ÄčThe Lib Dems might have insisted they would not join a coalition government during the campaign, but it wouldn't be the first time minds have been changed.

If May can persuade the party, which has increased the number of seats by four to 12, despite Nick Clegg's shock ousting, then Tim Farron would be a candidate for deputy prime minister. However Farron is vocally anti-Brexit, and has pushed for a second referendum on the terms of the deal.

It would give the Tories a slightly stronger majority of 331, but they would make very uncomfortable bedfellows – but he might feel more at ease joining a left-leaning alliance if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn decides to go down that route.

Nicola Sturgeon

The SNP leader has had a bad night, losing 21 seats to take just 34 in total. This would give the Tories its strongest majority yet – but if Tim Farron is unlikely, Nicola Sturgeon looks even less possible (not least as she is not an MP, but rather an MSP).

They are at odds on most policies, not least Brexit, and would most likely make a second Scottish referendum a part of any deal to join the government.

If not May, then...

If May can't form a coalition government then it opens the floor to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, bookies Betfair currently has him as the favourite to be the next Prime Minister.

Given Labour has just 261 seats, Corbyn would have to put together a hefty rainbow coalition – which may be harder to govern. But politically, he has more in common with a larger number of parties than the Tories.

He has more chance with parties such as the SNP and Lib Dems, for example, who are more aligned on key issues, although the Labour stance on Brexit has been less equivocal.

However, Corbyn has rejected the chances of a coalition with the SNP, saying it "may talk left at Westminster, but in government in Scotland it acts right".

Caroline Lucas

The Green MP, who doubled her majority in Brighton Pavilion, may have been snubbed by the broadcasters but she could be one of a potential progressive alliance/coalition of chaos, depending on your perspective. According to the BBC, she has already indicated she would be willing to back a Labour-led government.

Boris Johnson in the wings

Of course, there's no guarantee that May or Corbyn will become Prime Minister. If May resigns before Corbyn has a chance to form a coalition, that mantle could fall to someone within the Conservative party. Step forward the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, who is third in line after Corbyn and May, according to Betfair.

So far, he's biding his time, but all eyes are on him.

But please, not him: Nigel Farage says he has 'no choice' but to re-enter British politics

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