British election: Who are the winners and losers?

British Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a snap election was seen as a ploy to score gains against Labour's Jeremy Corbyn.
British Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a snap election was seen as a ploy to score gains against Labour's Jeremy Corbyn.PHOTO: AFP

From the time it was unexpectedly called by British Prime Minister Theresa May seven weeks ago, the British election has been an unpredictable affair.

On Friday (June 9), May, who had called the election to strengthen her hand in the upcoming Brexit negotiations, suffered a stunning blow when she lost her overall majority in Parliament, throwing her political future into uncertainty.

Here's a look at the other key figures who suffered defeats and those who came out victorious.

LOSERS

Theresa May

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May has suffered one of the most dramatic reversals in recent British political history.

When she called the snap election on April 18, in a political gambit meant to shore up her support for the Brexit negotiations, many pollsters expected her to win by a landslide.

Instead, she has managed to squander the 20-point lead she enjoyed at the outset.

May, who promised "strong and stable" leadership, had a disastrous election. Her decision to call the snap election was seen by voters as a cynical ploy to score gains against Labour's unpopular leader Jeremy Corbyn after she repeatedly pledged she would not hold new elections.

She reversed a policy on care for the elderly - dubbed the "dementia tax" by Labour - when it proved unpopular and refused to appear in TV debates with Corbyn. Opponents denounced her as "weak and wobbly."

May also tried to exploit terror attacks on Manchester and London to expose Corbyn's perceived weakness on security.

On Friday, when it became clear how the dust was going to settle, it didn't take long for her to come under criticism from even members of her own party.

May "is in a very difficult place... she now has to obviously consider her position," said anti-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry.

Former Conservative MP Paul Goodman and editor of the influential website ConservativeHome said May's authority had "received a blow from which it is unlikely to recover."

Nick Clegg

Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was one of the big names who fell in the election, losing his Sheffield Hallam seat, which he held for the last 12 years to his Labour rival Jared O'Mara.

The Labour candidate won it with a 4 per cent swing.

Clegg, who was deputy prime minister in the last coalition government, said representing the seat had been "the greatest privilege of my political life".

In his speech, he also called on all parties to strive for unity as Britain braces for the tough exit negotiations with the European Union.

Sounding a poetic note about his defeat, he said: "I of course have encountered this evening something that many people have encountered before tonight, and I suspect many people will encounter after tonight: which is, in politics, you live by the sword and you die by the sword."

Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon saw major losses for her Scottish National Party (SNP) after it lost seats to the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Although the separatist SNP remains Scotland's biggest party, the election handed defeats to former first minister Alex Salmond, as well as the party's current deputy leader Angus Robertson.

As such, the separatists' hopes of taking Scotland out of the 300-year-old British union, sparked by last year's Brexit vote, is now under question.

Asked what the implications of the result would be for her hopes for independence, Sturgeon told the BBC: "I'm going to take time to reflect on this." "I'm not going to rush to hasty judgements or decisions but clearly there is thinking for me to do about the SNP result."

Alex Salmond

Former Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond was another casualty of the SNP's lackluster performance at the polls.

The ex-first minister had swept to power in the north-eastern Scottish seat of Gordon in 2015, reversing a decades-long grip by the centrist Liberal Democrats.

On Friday, he lost to a Conservative candidate by a whopping 29 per cent swing.

Salmond turned the SNP into an electoral force and led the campaign to break from England and Wales in 2014.

He attributed the loss of SNP seats to a late surge in support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But while the SNP may have been reduced in numbers, he promised voters that was not the end of his story. "You've not seen the last of my bonnet and me," he said, quoting a song by the Jacobites - an 18th-century movement of Scottish patriots.

WINNERS

Jeremy Corbyn

Labour's hard-left leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly beaten the odds in his long and colourful political career and he appears to have done so again with an unexpectedly strong result in Britain's national election.

With nearly all seats declared, the Conservatives took 318 seats, 12 down from the 330 they won in 2015, while the Labour party took 261 seats, sweeping nearly 30 seats more than their previous outing.

The result was a clear victory for Corbyn and the leftist ideas he champions, less than a year after he struggled to win a vote of confidence from his own MPs.

"Whatever the final result, we have already changed the face of British politics," Corbyn said in a statement on Friday.

"What the early results mean is that Corbyn has got more life in him than anybody might have thought," said Steven Fielding, a political historian at the University of Nottingham and an expert on the Labour Party. "He's lost, but it means that he's probably safe from an immediate effort to get rid of him. It's Theresa May who now has no capital with her party."

Vince Cable

A veteran of the Liberal Democrats party, Vince Cable lost his Twickenham seat two years ago, to Conservative Tania Mathias.

Cable, who was business secretary in the coalition government in 2010, held the seat from 1997 up until the 2015 election. Now, he has won it back thanks to the resurgent support of the youth vote. "I think we have all underestimated the force of the younger generation. They really turned out in massive numbers. Mr Corbyn, to his credit, understood that and tapped into it."

But he also acknowledged the mixed fortunes his party secured, after party leader Tim Farron barely held on to his seat while former leader, Nick Clegg, lost his.

Cable said he was "looking forward to being an MP again and concentrating on my constituency work".

SOURCES: THE TELEGRAPH, THE NEW STATESMAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, THE GUARDIAN

 

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