Let's start from the beginning. As polling stations closed last night at 10pm, the electoral exit poll, which is based on surveys taken of voters as they leave the stations, predicted what few people saw coming - a hung parliament. It predicted that the Conservative party would be the largest party at the end of voting, but would fall short of the majority of 326 seats needed by about 10 seats. It predicted that Labour would grow hugely, gaining about 30 seats.
As has almost become tradition, the early seat declarations made things look good for Labour. It was that case all the way until about 4am when they were overtaken by the Tories. I woke up around 6am just as it was confirmed that the election would result in a hung parliament. By this point, Theresa May had suffered losses, meaning the majority grasp of Government she had held and was cock sure this election would grow, crumbled in her hands and she hid away.
Labour gained more seats very early on in the night and so it was a jovial one for Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Cabinet. For the actual Cabinet, things got catty. Throughout the night, Tory MPs turned on their leader and went on the offensive, attacking the needless election and the stance on leaving the EU that the Prime Minister has decided to take, not to mention her style of campaigning.
Since the current manifestation of the exit poll started in 2001, it has been wildly accurate, a few times predicting the exact eventual outcome. It did pretty well this year, the Tories gained 318 seats (recounts still happening at the time of writing, though not enough to make a difference to any party), a few more than the poll predicted but, of course, not enough to be automatically re-elected. Talk of a coalition began early. This is when two or more parties - none of which has gained enough votes to automatically form a Government - band together their seats to tip them over the 326 seats and go to the Queen to ask to form a Government.
Labour's growth was evident early on and so the coalition talk initially surrounded them. They roundly rejected the possibility of even attempting to coalesce with the likes of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru. Wales voted overwhelmingly for Labour, as expected. This worked well for them because of the vast change that occurred in Scotland. Where the country was represented by the SNP in all but a handful of seats, today, 21 of the 56 seats they won in 2015 went to Labour or the Conservatives (most Conservatives), leaving them 35 left though still the biggest Scottish party. Due to these losses, Labour would have no viable option to form a majority coalition as the joint number of seats that went to Labour, SNP, Lib Dems, Green, and Plaid Cymru was still not enough. A coalition of more than two parties would be a bitter pill to swallow and would give rise to more talk of coalitions of chaos.
As it goes, Conservatives have formed an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party led by Arlene Foster who hold ten seats in Northern Ireland. However, this coming together does not constitute a coalition this time, like the Conservative-Liberal Democrats coalition of 2010. Yep, we know. The DUP has said it will offer their support to the Tories without signing up to a formal coalition. This is called a 'confidence and supply' agreement wherein, without coalescing with the Tories, they will give them their support in the House of Commons in any issue that doesn't go against their politics. They've agreed to this at a cost to the Tories nevertheless. The DUP will strongly demand greater representation and consideration of DUP and Northern Irish issues.
The DUP care strongly about unity among Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which flies in the face of the 'hard Brexit' that it seems Theresa May is going for, which would create a stronger border with the Republic. Therefore, the DUP are after a 'soft Brexit'. However, that's not what has gotten them noticed today. The Independent has called the party "arguably the most socially conservative party in Britain" with policies against same-sex marriage, against abortion even in cases of rape, denial of climate change, and promote creationism and call the Pope the antichrist, firmly mixing Church and Politics. They won 10 seats in Northern Ireland, and its majority.
For many, this will signify a shift further to the right for the Tories, even if the DUP are basically negligible, which we cannot say just yet.
The Tory Cabinet will be re-shuffled. Whether or not there will be a DUP MP in the Cabinet despite only having ten seats out of 650, is unknown because of the odd nature of the agreement between the two parties. Either way, the current Government will have, altogether, about 330 seats and will face vehement opposition from the emboldened Labour and Lib Dem parties and, based on that outcome, it is a loss for the Conservatives generally. Labour say they've won the election but that is similarly only a symbolic victory as they are certainly the reason the Tories lost their majority.
The coming months will be Newfoundland for British politics.
- Image courtesy of Flickr/number10gov