Aww … Snap! What Happened?

June 16, 2017

It was an election that didn’t go as the British Prime Minister Theresa May had planned—after all she wanted more support, not less. How did this happen to a Prime Minister who had, according to experts, a really good chance at getting the support that she wanted? Let’s rewind back to last June.

It was on June 23rd when the people of the United Kingdom (U.K.) went to their voting booths to vote on whether or not the U.K. should leave the European Union (EU). They voted yes. As a result, then-Prime Minister David Cameron resigned and Theresa May took over.

Since the U.K. was the first-ever country to leave the EU, there were a lot of unanswered questions as to how the country would leave and what that would look like. After all, the EU was created so that member countries could benefit from things such as better trade, friendlier borders, a strong single currency, and a more united and powerful Europe. Would the U.K. still be able to take advantage of some of these benefits?

By secretlondon123 (Flickr: polling station) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
After denying that she would call for a snap election, Prime Minister May changed her mind in April and announced that she would call for a snap election after all. Her reasoning behind the decision? She wanted to gather more support for her plans for Brexit and thought that the other political parties would make negotiating Britain’s exit more difficult. So the snap election took place on June 8th and that’s where our current story begins.

Prior to the election, Prime Minister May’s party, the Conservative party, had 331 out of the 650 seats in the British Parliament. After the election, they lost 13 of those seats. It seemed like the Labour Party (the other major party in Britain) had rallied at the last minute and received more votes than even the experts had anticipated!

By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1634181

But why do seats matter? Seats matter because those filling the seats tend to vote with their party. The more seats your party has, the more likely Parliament will pass the things your party wants to pass. But alas, not only did Prime Minister May’s party lose seats, the election also resulted in a hung Parliament. This meant that the snap election had backfired on Prime Minister May and negotiations of a hard Brexit (or her plan for what Britain will negotiate upon their exit from the EU) would be even more difficult to pass through Parliament.

By UK Home Office [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
What happens now? Well, Prime Minister May is working quickly to figure out how to get the support that she needs. Currently, she is working out a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to see if they’ll form a minority Conservative government with her. They’re still negotiating the deal.

But why the rush to form a government? Britain has limited time to negotiate its exit from the EU. The more time the British Parliament takes to agree among themselves about the details of the exit, the less time they have to negotiate an exit from the EU that works in their favor.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Brexit negotiations are suppose to begin on June 19th, but all signs point to a delay. We’ll keep you posted on what happens here at Xyza.

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