Based on exit polling and early returns, indications of the shocking outcome were being widely viewed as a rejection of May’s Conservative Party rule and a win for the bold, progressive vision Corbyn asserted—despite internal party tensions—as the Labour leader. If the trend holds, said journalist and Labour supporter Owen Jones, “then this is the most incredible amazing political upset in British history.”
Though final results have yet to be determined, British politics were nonetheless turned upside as it appeared that May and the Tories failed expectations and would likely be unable to claim a majority in Parliament. Even if the Tory’s retain the most seats overall, the ability of other parties to form a coalition with Labour would put her political future in severe jeopardy and make Corbyn the “odds on favorite” to become the nation’s next Prime Minister.
The Independent explains:
Many polls predicted a crushing defeat for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, with the Conservatives gaining a considerable majority. Others were less generous towards May, and showed a dramatic narrowing between the two parties as their campaigns progressed. But even then, when the numbers were relatively favourable for Labour, the Conservatives were still out in front.
If you cast your mind back before the snap election was called, you may remember the double-digit leads the Tories held over Labour, and the huge advantage in popularity May had over Corbyn. With these in mind, many Labour supporters were resigned to the fact they were never going to win, and had their eyes on simply reducing Theresa May’s majority.
But as the tallies continue to come in, the newspaper added, “the future of [May’s] premiership, party and legacy could all be in doubt.”
If May is ousted from leadership, explained columnist Laurie Penny writing at Salon, that would tell a tale of deep dissatisfaction in the U.K., especially among younger voters and those who have suffered most directly at the hands of Tory policies:
The Tories haven’t just fucked up this election. They’ve fucked up the country, mercilessly and for eight long years, and people are sick of them. In less than two terms, they have destroyed the welfare state; almost bankrupted our health service and school system; plunged millions of children into poverty; presided over an enormous uptick in racism, social division and terrorist violence; almost lost Scotland; utterly failed to balance the nation’s finances; and sent us spinning out of the European Union into the maw of decades of uncertainty, recession and fear. Racists are running brave in the streets. Food banks are the new normal. Millions of people are languishing in exhausting, low-paid work. People with disabilities are dying in their homes. School buildings are rotting. The mental health system is close to collapse. Young people have given up hope of starting families. People are poor, angry and scared.
In a speech accepting victory for his own seat in North Islington, Corbyn also said the elections results show that the British people have had enough of May and the Tories’ economic policies. He said people were inspired by the “For the Many, Not the Few Manifesto” that Labour put forth during the campaign and that he was proud people from across the country were “voting for hope for the future, and turning their backs on austerity.”
He added: “If there is a message from tonight’s result is this: the Prime Minister called the election because she wanted a mandate and lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that is enough to go, actually, and make way for a government which will be representative of all of the people!”
As Penny concluded: “Any result that isn’t a decisive Tory victory will be a failure for May and her minions and send the message that you can’t just cut people to the bone, keep on cutting, crash the state into a wall and demand a gold throne to sit on. You can’t simply ignore poor and working people forever nor fob them off with empty racist rhetoric. Most important: There is an alternative. There always has been. There’s more than one way to turn away from centrist neoliberal stagnation. There’s a progressive people’s fightback brewing, and it’s closer to victory than anyone dared to hope.”