What happens next if no party wins a Commons majority?

If no party wins an overall majority at the general election, as the exit poll predicts, Theresa May will have to try to assemble support from other parties in the House of Commons.

However, neither the SNP nor the Liberal Democrats are likely to want to join a formal coalition having campaigned hard against the Conservatives during the campaign, so the PM would have to secure support on a more case-by-case basis.

She might reach out to unionist politicians in Northern Ireland to support her budget and Queen’s Speech, for example.

Because Sinn Fein do not take their seats and the Speaker does not vote, a government could have a working majority with slightly under 326 seats. But even a small backbench rebellion would cause major problems, especially in a climate where many Conservatives would have reason to be critical of the PM.

Labour could try and assemble a progressive coalition, but even with the SNP and Liberal Democrats’ support they would not reach a majority. Still, only a small polling error could put Jeremy Corbyn within reach of Number 10.

Of course, there could be a polling error in the Tories’ favour. In 2015, when most of the pre-election commentary had assumed a hung Parliament, the exit poll showed David Cameron’s party just short, but the Tories went on to win a bare majority.

If the exit poll is right, however, the British electorate has failed to reach a clear verdict. Will they have to vote again?

959 Comments