PM May has announced that she will focus on forming a government, though she did not say she would hold the reins for the next five years. She added that she was "sorry" for the Conservatives' losses in the election.
After delivering a defiant speech from the steps of 10 Downing Street, in which she underlined the Tories' capture of the largest number of MP seats but failed to mention the party's 12 constituency losses, Theresa May said on Friday that she would "reflect" on the election and what it means for the future of her Conservative Party.
"As I reflect on the results, I will reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward," the prime minister said in a broadcast statement. She also expressed that she was "sorry" for those Tories who lost their seats.
May's failure to acknowledge the Tories' losses in her initial speech led to strong criticism from within her own party. In an interview with the BBC, Conservative Graham Brady admitted that - despite May's running a flawed campaign - the Tories had no "appetite for plunging the government and the country into a period of turmoil" and no "great appetite either for a leadership contest."
'Forming a government'
In response to a question on whether she could serve a full five-year term as prime minister, May emphasized that she would focus her efforts on the formation of a minority government with the support of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that could see the UK through the Brexit negotiation phase - but she did not say she would be at the helm of said government.
"What is important is that we bring the government together, we form a government, in the national interest at this critical time for our country because we do face the challenge of those Brexit negotiations," May said. "So it’s important to have a government that can take the negotiations through. That’s what I’m doing: forming a government."
Should May depart from office, she will become the second Conservative head of government in a row, following David Cameron, to step down.
May's office confirmed that current key ministers - Philip Hammond as finance minister, Boris Johnson as foreign minister, Amber Rudd as home minister, Michael Fallon as defense minister and David Davis as Brexit minister - would keep their posts.
Theresa May and husband return to 10 Downing Street after receiving the queen's permission to form a government
Another seat lost
In the final blow for May's Conservatives, Labour took the wealthy constituency of Kensington, in west London. The constituency was established in 1997, with its boundaries altered slightly in 2010, and had always been in Conservative hands since its creation.
After several recounts following one of Thursday's closest races, election officials assigned the last remaining seat to Labour with a mere 20-vote difference, putting the final tally at 318 seats for the Conservatives and 262 for Labour. The result, declared exactly 24 hours after the polls closed, puts the Tories eight deputies short of an outright majority.
May had not planned for a coalition when she called the early elections in mid-April. "No politician wants to hold an election for the sake of it," she said at the time. With Labour in apparent disarray as recently as the spring, she gambled that she could emerge from the early electionswith her position as prime minster secured for the next five years and a strengthened hand in Brexit talks with the EU.
Protests at 10 Downing
Meanwhile, activists gathered on Friday evening outside of 10 Downing Street to protest May's decision to ally with the DUP, pointing to the socially archconservative party's anti-LGBT and anti-abortion stances.
Some protesters' signs also reiterated the call made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier on Friday for May to step down.
And the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, tweeted a the link to the text of a speech she gave at a Belfast Pride event in which she described the life-changing effect of marriage equality in her life.
The DUP strongly opposes marriage equality, leaving open the possibility of whether Davidson and other more socially liberal Tories might be alienated by the Conservative Party's coalition partner.
By the numbers
The Conservatives emerged from the snap general election with the most seats, but their 318 fell short of the 326 needed for an absolute majority. The DUP secured 10 seats, while a resurgent Labour picked up 31 to reach 261 seats. The Scottish National Party (SNP) fell to 35, and the Liberal Democrats rebounded slightly from their own tainted time as Tory teammates to reach 12.
The Northern Ireland branch of the republican party Sinn Fein increased its seats by three, to seven, but the party's legislators not take their places in the London assembly.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP would try to forge an alliance to keep May's Conservatives from returning to power. "We will work with others, if it is at all possible, to keep the Tories out of government," Sturgeon said on Friday. "We have always said that we would work in alliance with others to promote progressive policies to build a fairer country."
In May's opinion, however, "it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist Party" are the factions to "work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom." She added: "Now let's get to work."
dj, cmb/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)