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General election 2017: Could Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister?

General election 2017: Could Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister?

With a Labour surge among voters and Theresa May struggling, the Labour leader could move into No 10.


Theresa May's Tories failed to win a majority in a snap election aimed at increasing their existing slim majority in the Commons.

The Prime Minister initially enjoyed a healthy lead in the polls, but a series of slip-ups saw her cede ground to Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour amassed 261 seats.

Far from a Tory landslide, May's move has resulted in a hung parliament, a weakened Conservative Party and a bolstered opposition.

Labour supporters are delighted with their surprise success and despite May refusing to budge, there is talk of Corbyn as a potential prime minister. But could that actually happen?

How does a hung parliament work?

A hung parliament occurs where none of the parties have won enough seats in a general election to have a majority in the House of Commons, where one party wins more seats than all others combined.

The most common way to form a government after a hung parliament is to create a coalition, with two or more parties joining forces to make a majority.

What will happen this time?

Assuming she doesn't resign, as incumbent PM, May has the first opportunity to form a coalition government, according to the House of Commons website. Next is the party with the largest number of seats, which is also the Conservatives.

However, while the Tories have the upper hand at the moment, Labour officials will be talking to other smaller parties behind the scenes to gauge the prospect of forming a government in case May is unable to.

Which parties could team up?

For May, the answer to her coalition woes is simple - the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who stand for election in Northern Ireland only. They won ten seats which would give May the magic 326-seat marker and a majority, keeping her at No 10.

Things are a little trickier for Corbyn, not least because Labour strongly distanced itself from the prospect of forming a coalition. In a speech last week, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said: "It’s possible that we will form the next government and if we do, there is no coalition.

"There's no coalition, there's no deals. Either the Conservatives will be a minority government, if this poll is right, or Labour will be a minority government."

A "progressive alliance", an idea floated numerous times during campaigning, would see a coalition between Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens. However, this would still fall short of an absolute majority in the Commons.

So are there any other options for Corbyn?

Yes. Numerous Labour frontbenchers, including shadow chancellor John McDonnell, have suggested forming a minority government, where a party doesn't enter a formal coalition with smaller parties but instead, asks them for support regarding crucial votes.

This would in effect create a government that can pass laws, but these administrations tend to be extremely unstable and the likelihood of another election would be high.

If May cannot secure a formal coalition with the DUP, nor create a minority government, the ball would be in Corbyn's court. The Lib Dems and the SNP have both ruled out forming a coalition, but they may, along with the Greens and others, be open to negotiations regarding a minority government.

However, Corbyn's controversial relationship with the IRA means he would almost certainly fail to come to an agreement with any of the Northern Irish parties, who may hold the key to a successful minority government.

How likely is Corbyn to become the next prime minister?

Not very. If he can't or won't form a coalition, Corbyn's only option available is a minority government and even then, the Conservatives have priority as they are the incumbent party.

Bookmakers William Hill are currently offering 10/1 for Corbyn to be the next prime minister, while Betvictor give odds as long as 20/1. Meanwhile, May is on 1/18 with Paddy Power and Betfair and 1/16 with Betvictor and Betfred.

What do people think?

Owen Jones, writing in The Guardian, says Corbyn "has caused a sensation" and "he would make a fine prime minister".

He adds: "Labour is now permanently transformed. Its policy programme is unchallengeable. It is now the party’s consensus. It cannot and will not be taken away. Those who claimed it could not win the support of millions were simply wrong."

However, both Jones and the Daily Mail appear fairly confident May will be able to form either a coalition or a minority government with the help of the DUP and "Corbyn's chances of making it to No 10 appear slim".

What if the Tory-DUP government fails?

This is perhaps Labour's only hope. But it will - brace yourself - mean yet another election. "The Tories can't survive for long as a minority government. Even if they made a formal deal with the DUP, a working majority of three is not sustainable," writes the Daily Mirror. "So it's more than likely the country will have another election soon. Probably before the year is out.

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