The country woke up to the shocking news this morning that, against the backdrop of Brexit, an increased terrorist threat, and falling economic fortunes, we now have a hung Parliament.
What does a hung parliament mean?
A hung parliament occurs when no party gains enough seats in parliament to govern. In the case of a hung parliament, the current Prime Minister remains in office until it is decided who will form a new government.
The incumbent Prime Minister is entitled to try and form a new government and stay in office until Parliament is called again. Parliament is next due to be called on 13th June. The Prime Minister can then ask MPs to approve the Queen’s Speech.
However, the Cabinet Manual states an incumbent government, “is expected to resign if it becomes clear that it is unlikely to be able to command [that] confidence and there is a clear alternative.”
If Theresa May resigns, which she is widely expected to do (although she may try to struggle on for a few months), the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn would have the chance to form a government and have his Queen’s Speech approved.
There is a very real chance that the country will go to the polls again before 2017 concludes.
What does this result mean for Brexit?
Mrs. May’s entire reason for calling the snap election was to cement a strong majority for Brexit negotiations that are due to start in 10 days’ time, following the triggering of Article 50 in March.
However, with her majority completely crushed and MPs such as Boris Johnson, stating, “early days, early days”, when asked if Theresa May could continue as Prime Minister, even if Mrs. May does choose to reamin Prime Minister, it is debatable whether she will survive long enough to make any dent in the Brexit negotiations.
According to The Independent, not having a majority puts Theresa May in an almost impossible position.
“She would need the votes of other parties, who have roundly rejected her approach to Brexit, in order to get one of the most complex and divisive legislative programmes in history through two chambers of Parliament – without having a majority in either.
Even if she could reach the point where she successfully passes the myriad laws needed before Brexit and then agrees a deal with an EU in a far stronger bargaining position, any final settlement would have to be put to a vote in a House of Commons with no united position.”
No other party is prepared to work with the Conservatives at present, due to the determination of Mrs. May and other Brexiters to leave the single market and the customs union.
This election may mean that a hard Brexit is off the cards and the rights of EU nationals may be guaranteed sooner rather than later.
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Posted on: Friday, 09 June, 2017