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May’s future not strong and stable: Five things we learned from election night

There are plenty of talking points after a night of high political drama.

Theresa May’s future as Prime Minister appears far from strong and stable
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Theresa May leaves Conservative Party HQ in Westminster (Rick Findler/PA)

After repeatedly ruling out calling a snap election, she went to the country in the hope her party would secure a larger majority ahead of Brexit negotiations. On Friday morning it became clear the gamble had backfired spectacularly as the poll ended in a hung parliament – a prospect the Tories could scarcely have comprehended when the election was called. As speculation over her future mounted, Mrs May said the country “needs a period of stability”, while Tory sources indicated she would continue in Number 10.

Jeremy Corbyn defied expectations
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A jovial Jeremy Corbyn has mounted pressure on the Conservatives (Frank Augstein/AP)

At the start of the campaign the Labour leader was – as for much of his political career – an outsider. But his campaign gathered momentum as the weeks went on and, though it was not enough to secure a victory, the outcome was far from the dire defeat many had predicted. As the Tories surveyed the wreckage, Mr Corbyn called for Mrs May to quit as PM.

The results raise question marks about Brexit talks
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David Davis faces a tough task as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union ( Victoria Jones/PA)

It was seen as a key issue in the campaign but, if anything, the election has left Britain’s preparations for negotiations with the bloc more uncertain. Talks are due to start in just ten days. Brussels officials have indicated that the date is not set in stone, but the clock is ticking ahead of the UK’s expected departure in 2019.

The exit poll was on the money
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The polls failed to predict Donald Trump's surprise election as United States President (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

There was disbelief and shock across the political spectrum when a survey for broadcasters forecast that the Conservatives would lose their majority. But as the night wore on it became clear the poll of 30,450 people at 144 polling stations would prove broadly accurate. Voters will be learning to expect the unexpected, the latest surprise coming after the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

Big names were booted out or given an almighty shock
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Nick Clegg waved goodbye to his seat in Sheffield Hallam (Steve Parsons/PA)

Ex-deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond were high-profile casualties, while the Tories lost a host of ministers. Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Education Secretary Justine Greening hung on to their seats by the skin of their teeth, with much-reduced majorities.

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