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Theresa May Announces Plan To Form Government After Queen's Approval


The British government is in damage repair mode following yesterday's election. Voters stripped the ruling Conservative Party of its majority in Parliament. Now some are calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to step aside, though she says she's moving ahead. Negotiations on Brexit, the U.K.'s exit from the European Union, are just over a week away. NPR's Peter Kenyon has more.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Some Londoners spent their Friday trying to figure out what had happened overnight. Theresa May supporter Sylvia McDermott was puzzling it over as she walked her dog in Regent's Park.

SYLVIA MCDERMOTT: Shocked as well. It's really a bad situation now because of Brexit as well. So it's very...

KENYON: Where do they go from here?

MCDERMOTT: I know. Nobody knows at the moment - very confusing situation. And I'm sad that the country is in such a state, really.

KENYON: Considering the commanding 21-point lead she held less than two months ago over the Labour Party, May's Election Day performance was about as bad as it could be short of losing the election altogether. May visited Buckingham Palace without a ruling majority in hand but with an understanding that a Northern Irish party, the DUP, would support the Conservatives and allow her to form the next government. She later said moving ahead with Brexit talks is the priority, but she will be reflecting on the damage her decision to call snap elections caused her own party.


PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY: I obviously wanted a different result last night. And I'm sorry for all those colleagues who lost their seats who didn't deserve to lose.

KENYON: At a crowded post-election gathering hosted by the London School of Economics, LSE analyst Tony Travers pondered the question, if a bigger Conservative majority was supposed to mean a stronger U.K. position in the Brexit talks, what does no majority mean?

TONY TRAVERS: It's going to be incredibly difficult for the Conservative government. And leaders all over Europe will read this result as it's going to be easier for them to get a deal out of the British than it would have been before.

KENYON: Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who not long ago was being asked to step aside by his own lawmakers, was elated by his party's strong showing and said it's Theresa May who should go.


JEREMY CORBYN: It was her decision to call the election. And she was saying she was doing it to bring about strong and stable government. Well, this morning, it doesn't look like a strong government. It doesn't look like a stable government. It doesn't look like a government that has any program whatsoever.

KENYON: Now May needs to name a cabinet, which so far is looking very similar to the previous lineup, and finalize a Brexit negotiating strategy. But it remains to be seen whether the 27 EU countries on the other side of the table will be prepared to agree to anything with a government that may not have a long lifespan. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.