Theresa May has apologised to Conservative MPs and ministers who lost their jobs amid the turmoil of her botched election gamble.
In a short interview from Downing Street Ms May said she was "sorry" and that loyal colleagues - including eight ministers - had not deserved to be ousted from their seats.
Her comments which also acknowledged her failure to win a majority, came shortly after a formal statement outside No10 which appeared to completely gloss over the shortcomings of Ms May's ill fated election campaign.
A visibly nervous Prime Minister said: "I am sorry for those candidates and hard-working party workers who weren't successful, but also particularly sorry for those colleagues who were MPs or ministers who had contributed so much to our country and who lost their seats and didn't deserve to lose their seats."
She went on to promise that in the wake of her losses she would "reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward".
Earlier, following an audience with the Queen, Ms May said she would seek to lead a minority government supported by the Democratic Unionists.
"What the country needs more than ever is certainty, and having secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the General Election, it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist Party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons," she said on the steps of No 10.
The contrition in her new words comes amid what are likely to be difficult conversations between Ms May and her senior Conservative ministers, as she attempts to form her cabinet in the wake of an election which many Tories see as having squandered what was a workable majority.
It was noticeable as the results came in on Friday morning that almost none of her cabinet colleagues were wiling to speak publicly in support of their leader.
Only Brexit Secretary David Davis gave unflinching support, while Trade Secretary Liam Fox said earlier in the night that it was too early to "make any assumptions" when asked if the PM had been damaged.
Allies of Boris Johnson denied that he was "on manoeuvres", following claims he was sounding out colleagues ahead of a leadership contest, saying that the Foreign Secretary was committed to making Ms May's plans for a deal with the DUP a success.
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