Theresa May pledges 'stability' as speculation mounts over PM's future
Theresa May will seek to stay on as Prime Minister and Tory leader despite failing to win a majority after her decision to hold a snap election backfired spectacularly.
As the June 8 poll ended in a hung parliament, with no party holding an absolute majority in the House of Commons, Mrs May pledged the Tories would offer "stability" as the largest party with the most votes.
But Jeremy Corbyn said it was clear Labour had won the election and "we are ready to serve this country".
The Prime Minister's situation appeared precarious as Conservative former minister Anna Soubry said she should "consider her position" and take personal responsibility for a "dreadful" campaign and a "deeply flawed" manifesto after choosing to go to the country three years early in the hope of extending her majority.
Mr Corbyn called on the Prime Minister to resign, and indicated he was ready to put forward a programme for government.
"I think it's pretty clear who won this election," he said at Labour's headquarters in central London.
"We are ready to do everything we can to put our programme into operation, there isn't a parliamentary majority for anybody at the present time, the party that has lost in this election is the Conservative Party, the arguments the Conservative Party put forward in this election have lost.
"I think we need a change."
But Tory sources indicated Mrs May would continue in Number 10 on the basis of the election result.
"Certainly that's what's expected," a source said.
With 647 out of 650 constituencies declared, the Tories had 316 seats - making it impossible to achieve the 326 necessary for an outright majority - Labour 261, the SNP 35 and the Liberal Democrats 12.
The Democratic Unionist Party, which increased its representation at Westminster from eight to 10, could potentially support Mrs May - but leader Arlene Foster said it was "too soon to say" what would happen and it will be "difficult" for the Prime Minister to continue in her role.
Any attempt by Mrs May to soldier on leading a minority administration would be made easier with the support of the DUP, and the assumption that Sinn Fein will not take up the seven seats it won.
But Ms Foster would not be drawn on any deal: "I certainly think that there will be contact made over the weekend but I think it is too soon to talk about what we're going to do."
Asked if she thought Mrs May would be able to stay in her job, the DUP leader told the BBC: "I don't know", adding: "I think it will be difficult for her to survive".
That view was echoed by former chancellor George Osborne, sacked from the Cabinet by Mrs May and now editor of the Evening Standard, told ITV: "Clearly if she's got a worse result than two years ago and is almost unable to form a government then she I doubt will survive in the long term as Conservative party leader."
After a dramatic night:
:: Mrs May's party had 42.4% of the vote while Labour's share had increased by almost 10 points from its 2015 level to 40.06%.
:: The pound plummeted as the shock figures set the scene for political turmoil at Westminster, disruption to upcoming Brexit negotiations and the possibility of a second election later in the year.
:: The night was marked by a collapse in Ukip support and a rash of high-profile losses for the SNP, as British politics returned to a two-party system on the greatest scale since the 1970s.
:: The Tories lost eight frontbenchers, with ministers Jane Ellison, Simon Kirby, Gavin Barwell, James Wharton, Nicola Blackwood, Rob Wilson and Edward Timpson going, along with Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer, the author of the widely criticised Tory manifesto.
A silver lining for the Tories came as former London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith returned in Richmond Park with a majority of just 45 some six months after losing it to the Liberal Democrats.
Ukip leader Paul Nuttall faced calls to quit after suffering humiliation in Boston & Skegness, where he came in a distant third, and the Eurosceptic party lost its only Westminster seat in Clacton.
Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge said "heads must roll" to save the party.
High-profile casualties of a night of shock defeats included Liberal Democrat former leader and ex-deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam, Scotland's former first minister Alex Salmond in Banff & Buchan and the SNP's leader in Westminster Angus Robertson in Moray.
Speaking as she was re-elected MP for Maidenhead, Mrs May said: "At this time, more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability."
As the party with the most seats and votes " it will be incumbent on us to ensure that we have that period of stability and that is exactly what we will do".
But asked if Mrs May could remain as Tory leader, Ms Soubry told the BBC: " She's a remarkable and very talented woman and she doesn't shy away from difficult decisions, but she now has to obviously consider her position."
Brexit Secretary David Davis said he would "fight tooth and nail" to keep Mrs May in post, and dismissed suggestions he might be a contender to replace her.
"The simple truth is we have a Prime Minister, she is a very good leader, I'm a big supporter of hers," Mr Davis told the Press Association.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, often tipped as a potential successor to Mrs May as Tory leader, said: "We've got to listen to our constituents and listen to their concerns."
Liberal Democrats were celebrating the return of former ministers Sir Vince Cable, Sir Ed Davey and Jo Swinson two years after they lost their parliamentary seats.
Leader Tim Farron held on to his Westmorland & Lonsdale seat in Cumbria on a much-reduced majority, down from 8,949 in 2015 to just 777 now.