LONDON - Following a tumultuous, unpredictable snap election, Prime Minister Theresa May lost her overall parliamentary majority, even though the Conservatives had the most number of seats.
The vicar's daughter was criticised for a robotic performance on the campaign trail, and will now face serious questions about her decision to call the vote three years early, putting at risk the Conservatives' 17-seat majority.
The result also adds to the political uncertainty in Britain and potentially weakens May in talks with the EU due to begin on June 19.
Here are the options open to May:
TRY TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT
The Conservatives could potentially turn for support to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a natural ally, who won 10 seats.
The DUP would be willing to negotiate with the Conservatives, a senior MP had said on Thursday.
Still, May will face immediate demands from her own team to change the way she runs the government, according to Tory ministers, candidates and party officials, who asked not to named discussing internal affairs.
May called the election in April, saying she wanted voters to give her a mandate to deliver her vision of a clean break with the European Union, but the internal Tory backlash over the failures of her campaign now seem likely to make her position more perilous than before.
Labour had potential allies too, not least the Scottish National Party (SNP) who suffered major setbacks but still won a majority of Scottish seats.
May may not be able to keep the job.
"MAYHEM" screamed the headline in the tabloid Sun newspaper."Britain on a knife edge," said the Daily Mail.
May had acknowledged that a result such as the one signaled in the exit polls would be a defeat.
"If I lose just six seats I will lose this election, and Jeremy Corbyn will be sitting down to negotiate with the presidents, prime ministers and chancellors of Europe," she wrote on her Facebook page last month.
If neither major party is able to form a working majority, another election may be on the cards.
Earlier on Friday, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said that if May loses her majority it would be "completely catastrophic" for her and the Conservative Party.
"It's difficult to see if these numbers were right how they would put together the coalition to remain in office," he said. "But equally it's quite difficult looking at those numbers to see how Labour could put together a coalition, so it's on a real knife edge."
SOURCES: Reuters, New York Times, Bloomberg