U.K.'s May Announces She Will Form Government Day After Losing Parliamentary Majority

In one of the most sensational nights in British electoral history, a resurgent Labour Party denied May an outright win, forcing the Conservative Party into coalition with Northern Irish unionists

Theresa May, U.K. prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party, delivers a speech as her husband Philip May, watches outside number 10 Downing Street in London, U.K., on Friday, June 9, 2017.
Simon Dawson / Bloomberg

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Friday that she will form a government with assistance from Northern Irish unionists to provide political certainty and lead Britain in talks with the European Union to secure a successful Brexit deal.

May had earlier met with Queen Elizabeth to ask for permission to form a government.

On the doorstep of her official Downing Street residence, May said she could rely in parliament on the support of her "friends" in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party after her governing Conservatives failed to win a majority.

"We will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular," she said.

"Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years and this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom."

The DUP - which staunchly defends Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom, and takes a conservative approach to social issues - increased its number of seats to 10 in Thursday's election.

"We will fulfil the promise of Brexit together and over the next five years build a country in which no one, and no community, is left behind," May said. 

"This will allow us to come together as a country and channel our energies towards a successful Brexit deal that works for everyone in this country, securing a new partnership with the EU which guarantees our long term prosperity."

The DUP said earlier on Friday it would not comment on reports that it had agreed to back May's ruling Conservatives.

Some political analysts doubt a Conservative minority government with support from the DUP would last over the long term, and think a second election is likely. 

Confident of securing a sweeping victory, May had called the snap election to strengthen her hand in the European Union divorce talks. But in one of the most sensational nights in British electoral history, a resurgent Labour Party denied her an outright win, throwing the country into political turmoil as no clear winner emerged.

European Union leaders expressed fears that May's shock loss of her majority would delay the Brexit talks, due to begin on June 19, and so raise the risk of negotiations failing.

May's Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn, once written off by his opponents as a no-hoper, said May should step down and he wanted to form a minority government.