UK election: Senior Labour figures call on Theresa May to resign after exit polls suggest hung parliament

'She should go, because I think she has manifestly failed,' says Emily Thornberry

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Indy Politics

Emily Thornberry has called on Theresa May to resign if she loses her overall majority, as predicted by the general election exit poll.

Labour’s shadow Foreign Secretary said the Prime Minister “should consider her position” after Thursday night's official exit poll suggested the UK could be heading for a hung parliament.

“I think she should go, because I think she has manifestly failed,” Ms Thornberry told Sky News.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell also told the BBC he thinks Ms May’s position is becoming “increasingly untenable”.

The shock exit poll suggests Ms May, who triggered the election with a huge majority in the polls over her main opponent Jeremy Corbyn, will only take 314 seats in total.

As leader of the party that seems certain to win the most seats, Ms May will have the first opportunity to form a government.

However, should she prove unable to pass key legislation such as a budget or Queen's Speech, Mr Corbyn could be asked by the Queen to attempt to form a government in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Greens. 

The exit poll suggests such a coalition would have 323 seats, which, if Sinn Fein follows its tradition of not taking its seats in Parliament, would be enough for a tiny majority.

Ms Thornberry, who is standing for re-election in Islington South and Finsbury, also said the poll showed “we’re on the verge of a great result”.

“Just think – only seven weeks ago, the hubris of the Prime Minister, who was 20 points ahead wanted to have a blank cheque, she wanted to be able to do whatever she wanted with the country, with Brexit, with the economy, with our National Health Service,” she said. 

“And we said no, and we meant it, and we put forward a popular manifesto with a leader of the party who has stood the most extraordinary personal attacks, and actually has shown if anyone was strong and stable, it was him.”

But Mr McDonnell also warned against reading too much into the prediction, saying: “We have to have some scepticism about all polls at the moment.”

The poll, conducted by election expert Professor John Curtice for the BBC, Sky and ITV, stunned the country by predicting Theresa May's gamble in calling an early election could have backfired.

However, the 2015 exit poll underestimated support for the Conservatives and predicted they would win 15 fewer seats than they actually did. Should that prove to be true again, Ms May would have a majority similar to the one she held before the election.