How Theresa May’s Snap Election Delivered Britain a Hung Parliament

By Andre TartarAndre Tartar, Samuel Dodge and Hayley WarrenHayley Warren

Prime Minister Theresa May’s move to call a surprise election to shore up her thin parliamentary majority going into Brexit negotiations has backfired spectacularly. With 649 of 650 constituencies counted, her Conservative Party dropped 12 seats—and lost its majority in the House of Commons. May still intends to form a government with the help of Northern Ireland’s pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party. Together, they’ll have 327 seats, one more than needed.

Winners and Losers

The Conservatives lost seats to Labour and the Liberal Democrats

27

Con

32

Lab

 

6

2

12

SNP

20

Con

5

2

Lab

5

5

LD

2

LD

4

27

Conservative

32

Labour

 

6

2

20

SNP

12

Conservative

5

2

5

Labour

5

Lib Dems

Lib Dems

2

4

Graphic excludes seats won or lost to other smaller parties

Source: Press Association

The Conservatives flipped just five Labour seats; Jeremy Corbyn’s party outperformed expectations, winning 27 Tory-held constituencies. The biggest loser, though, was the Scottish National Party, which gave up 19 of its 54 seats. Of those, 12 went to the Tories. In all, 71 seats switched hands on Thursday.

May’s Campaign Fell Short

Theresa May missed out on Halifax, where she launched the Tory manifesto last month. It was her party’s fourth most-winnable Labour seat

May visited

Conservative

Win

Gain

Lost seat to

Labour

Lib Dem

Halifax

Conservative win

Conservative gain

Lost seat to

Labour

Lib Dem

May visited

Halifax

Sources: Bloomberg reporting, BBC

The biggest winner was Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party. While their 29-seat gain didn’t yield a majority, the result illustrated growing grassroots support and strong turnout among younger voters.

Labour’s Youth Vote

Labour victories generally tracked with where there's a larger population of young people

Population aged 18-30

Labour seats won 2017

Labour seat

Gain

5%

15

25

35

45+

Scotland

Scotland

Northern

Ireland

Northern

Ireland

Wales

Wales

Population aged 18-30

5%

15

25

35

45+

Scotland

Northern

Ireland

Wales

Labour seats won 2017

Labour seat

Gain

Scotland

Northern

Ireland

Wales

Sources: ONS Mid-year population estimates for England and Wales 2015, Press Association

Turnout among voters in Labour-won seats was almost four percentage points higher on average than in 2015. In contrast, Tory-won seats showed just a 2-point average increase. As for the SNP, its 5-point turnout dip helps explain the party’s thumping.

Who Turned Out to Vote

Labour areas saw the greatest increase in voter turnout, while Scotland saw the lowest

Change in turnout, 2015 to 2017

2017 result

Lib Dem

SNP

Conservative

Labour

DUP

Sinn Fein

Plaid Cymru

Green

-8%

-4

0

4

8

12+

Other

2017 seat gain

Scotland

Scotland

Turnout in Scotland dropped considerably, leading to the SNP losing seats

Northern

Ireland

Northern

Ireland

Wales

Wales

Labour-won seats in London saw turnout rise 5.4 percentage points, netting the party three Conservative seats

Change in turnout,

2015 to 2017

-8%

-4

0

4

8

12+

Turnout in Scotland dropped considerably, leading to the SNP losing seats

Scotland

Northern

Ireland

Wales

Labour-won seats in London saw turnout rise 5.4 points, netting the party three Conservative seats

2017 result

SNP

Conservative

Labour

DUP

Sinn Fein

Lib Dem

Plaid Cymru

Other

Green

2017 seat gain

Scotland

Northern

Ireland

Wales

Source: Press Association

Theresa May’s newest MPs may have some discouraging words for her Brexit ambitious. Of the 20 seats that Tories newly occupy, 13 voted to remain in the European Union. Meanwhile, around half of Labour’s new seats voted to leave, underscoring a confused political situation.

Shifting Brexit Desires

Rather than Conservatives picking up pro-Brexit voters, the opposite happened

Gain

Labour

Conservative

80

70

60

50%

60

70

80

↑ Leave

↓ Remain

Turnout 2017 →

55

60

65

70

75

80%

Labour gain

Conservative gain

80

70

60

50%

60

70

80

↑ Voted to leave the EU

↓ Voted to remain

Turnout →

50

55

60

65

70

75

80%

Sources: Press Association, Brexit vote estimate from Chris Hanretty of UEA

So what will history remember about this election—beyond May’s epic miscalculation? It’s the first time since 1997 that Conservatives have lost seats and the first decline ever for the SNP. More important is whether Thursday’s result leads to a pair of course corrections over independence: if the U.K. takes a more conciliatory approach to Brexit and if Scotland shelves a second independence referendum.

One For The History Books

Net change in House of Commons seats over time

This is the first time Conservatives will actually lose seats since Blair's landslide in 1997

Conservative

Labour

150

100

50

0

-50

-100

-150

-200

’87

’97

’83

’92

’01

’05

’10

’15

’17

Conservative

Labour

Lib Dems

SNP

150

100

50

0

-50

-100

-150

-200

1987

1997

1983

1992

2001

2005

2010

2015

2017

This is the first time Conservatives will actually lose seats since Blair's landslide in 1997

Lib Dems refers to Liberal/SDP in 1983 and 1987

Sources: House of Commons, Electoral Commission