A snap parliamentary election called by British Prime Minister Theresa May may prove to be a costly blow to the ruling Conservative Party.
Nearly one year after voting yes to Brexit in a shock election that swept May into power -- as a replacement for former Prime Minister David Cameron -- the Brits may have grown tired of the ruling Conservatives or "Tories," who have held power since 2010.
The Associated Press projected a loss of seats for May’s Conservatives. According to a BBC exit poll released as polls closed at 10 p.m., while the Tories are projected to remain the largest party in Parliament, May is likely to fall 12 seats short of an overall majority. The main opposition Labour Party is projected to win 266 seats of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of the U.K.'s Parliament. That would be a gain of more than 30 seats for Labour, and a loss of about 17 for the Tories.
The final outcome will not likely be known until early Friday morning, as official tallies continue to stream in through the night. A "hung Parliament" in which no party holds a majority could result in an extended period of negotiation with Britain's smaller parties, and even a new election if neither of the major parties can assemble a ruling coalition.
"That is the future I want for Britain as we fulfill the promise of Brexit together," May told voters in her final address to the nation before Thursday’s election. When the prime minister initially called for this election in April, she said she had done so in hopes of gaining an even greater majority and a stronger mandate in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
Shortly after the first exit polls were released on Thursday, however, it began to appear that her gamble had dramatically backfired. Voters have apparently rejected May's call for a “stronger mandate” to deliver Brexit and thrown her future as prime minister into doubt.
Former Tory chancellor George Osborne said on ITV Thursday: “Clearly if she has a worse result than two years ago and she struggles to form a coalition, there is a question over her long-term future as Conservative leader.”
It’s possible that Donald Trump’s surprise election in the U.S., and his scandal-plagued administration since then, have served as a chilling warning to voters in Europe.
After receiving Trump’s endorsement earlier this year, far-right populist Marine Le Pen went on to lose France’s presidential election by 32 points. On Thursday, May watched as her 25-point lead in opinion polls all but evaporated following Trump’s endorsement.