A hung parliament is not the result that British Prime Minister Theresa May or the bulk of political commentators expected from Thursday's general election. In April, with a 20-point lead in polls over the Labour Party, May cynically triggered an election three years ahead of schedule. She hoped to strengthen her parliamentary majority and personal mandate in advance of Brexit negotiations scheduled to begin June 19.
Having made her own supposedly "strong and stable leadership" the central mantra of the Conservatives' election campaign, May cannot escape personal responsibility for turning her party's modest lower house majority into a minority. She now depends on Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to pass legislation. But satisfying the socially conservative, pro-Brexit DUP tail that wags the Tory dog may leave the latter even more unpopular with voters — the majority of whom voted for the liberal progressive parties that now fill the opposition benches in the House of Commons. So what now for British politics and for the Brexit talks commencing in less than a week?
The usually cautious May gambled and failed. The outcome of the election diminishes her authority over her party and with the EU leaders she will face across the negotiating table. Plots to depose her abound among Tory MPs furious at her botched campaign. A series of policy U-turns, stiff stump speeches and negativity toward her opponents undermined the prime minister's promise of a "strong and stable" government.