Labour wants to form a minority government and will challenge the SNP, the Lib Dems and Green Party to support it, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said.
A minority government would see Jeremy Corbyn attempt to serve as prime minister without a majority in the Commons, but relying on other parties to vote through his legislation.
Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election has backfired spectacularly after she lost her Commons majority, leaving the UK with its second hung parliament in seven years.
It is one of the biggest electoral shocks in British political history and May is under pressure to resign as prime minister after just 327 days in the job.
However it has been reported that she has “no intention” of quitting No.10.
McDonnell said May was a “lame duck prime minister” who wants a “coalition of chaos” - a term the prime minister repeatedly threw at Labour during the campaign.
To command a majority in the Commons, a party needs 326 of the 650 seats.
With most of the seats counted, the Conservatives have 315 MPs, Labour 261, the SNP 35, the Lib Dems 12 and the DUP have 10.
McDonnell told ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning:
“In the interests of the country we are willing to form a government, a minority government, and put forward a programme, a Queen’s Speech, as well as an alternative Budget and also an alternative program for the Brexit negotiations and then it is up to other parties whether they support us.”
As the incumbents, the Conservative government will remain in office and has the first chance to form a new administration.
May can either try to form a coalition government or strike a looser deal with one or more of the smaller parties.
In this scenario, the DUP in Northern Ireland could prove crucial to helping May cling onto power.
Corbyn meanwhile could attempt to forge an agreement with the SNP, the Lib Dems and the Greens.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has repeatedly ruled out entering a coalition with Labour.
But Corbyn could attempt to run a minority government as prime minister, as McDonnell said, and ask the smaller parties to support him on crucial votes.
May ran a campaign on the slogan of providing “strong and stable” leadership. But she will now be scrambling to form a government ahead of the Brexit negotiations which begin in just eleven days time.
One Conservative candidate told HuffPost UK during the campaign the prime minister had “totally fucked it up”.
Anna Soubry, a former Conservative minister, was first out of the blocks in the early hours of Friday morning to publicly blast the “dreadful” campaign and suggest May “consider her position”.
And Tory MP Nigel Evans told the BBC “we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we shot ourselves in the head”.
Less than a year a go Labour MPs attempted to remove Corbyn as party leader as they believed he was leading them to electoral disaster. But his stunned critics are now having to eat their words.
John Woodcock, a Labour MP who expected to lose his seat in the north of England and was a fierce critic of Corbyn, summed up the mood. “I don’t know what’s going on,” he said in the early hours.