Britain’s Conservatives have lost their majority in a snap general election that has resulted in a hung parliament, State media reports.
With just a handful of seats left to declare, Thursday’s poll shows gains for the opposition Labour Party.
This is seen as a humiliation for PM Minister Theresa May, who chose to call the election to try to strengthen her hand in talks with the EU on Brexit.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged her to resign, but she said her party would “ensure” stability in the UK.
“At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability,” Mrs May told BBC early on Friday.
“And if, as the indications have shown and if this is correct that the Conservative Party has won the most seats and probably the most votes, then it will be incumbent on us to ensure we have that period of stability and that is exactly what we will do.”
Mrs May who had a small majority in the previous parliament had called an early election to try to improve her negotiation positions on Brexit.
What the forecast say according to BBC
The Conservatives are forecast to win 42% of the vote, Labour 40%, the Lib Dems 7%, UKIP 2% and the Greens 2%.
In the House of Commons, the Conservatives are predicted to be 12 seats short of an overall majority, losing 15. Labour are set to gain about 30, the Lib Dems five and the SNP are predicted to lose 22 seats.
The Green Party would be unchanged with one seat and Plaid Cymru still have three MPs in Wales, according to the poll.
Northern Ireland has different political parties.
Why the UK election matters
The election will largely determine the UK’s negotiation policies in upcoming negotiations with the EU on Brexit.
Theresa May was against Brexit before last year’s referendum, but now says there can be no turning back and that “Brexit means Brexit”.
The reason the prime minister gave for calling the election was to strengthen her hand during the negotiations.
The Conservatives’ priorities were set out in a 12-point plan published in January and the letter formally invoking Brexit in March.
The key elements include:
- No longer being bound by EU law and European Court of Justice rulings
- Quitting the EU single market and seeking a “comprehensive” free trade deal in its place
- Striking trade deals with other countries around the world
The Labour Party campaigned against Brexit in the referendum but now says the result must be honoured, and is aiming for a “close new relationship with the EU” with workers’ rights protected.
The party has set out several demands and tests it says Brexit must meet. These include:
- Aiming for “tariff-free access” to the EU single market, while accepting “unchanged access” is impossible
- Leaving the option of the customs union on the table
- Refusing to accept a “no deal” scenario