The polls have closed, most of the votes have been counted, all but a few seats have declared, and what have we got?
Like everyone else, I’m not entirely sure. So let’s look at the situation objectively and try to tease out some answers.
Questions to ask yourself on the morning of Friday 9th June:
- Who is Prime Minister?
Well, the PM is still Theresa May for the time being and all of the rumours coming out of Number Ten suggest that the status quo will persevere for a little while longer.
- What’s their majority?
Nil. The Tories have sacrificed a 17 strong overall majority for status as the largest single party, but insufficiently large to command an absolute lead.
- Is it strong and stable?
Ha! In no way, shape or form could this outcome be considered strong or stable.
No-one has a clear mandate, both main parties increased their vote share while neither managed to convince enough of the electorate to put their faith in them for the next five years (if it lasts that long).
At present the Conservatives are forecast 319 seats, Labour 261, SNP 35, Lib Dems 12, Plaid 4, Greens 1, and ‘other’ candidates are set to take the other 18 seats available.
UKIP took no seats, and haemorrhaged vote share to both Conservative and Labour rivals enabling both parties to increase their popular vote by 5.5 and 9.6 per cent respectively.
This means that Theresa May’s party commanded 42.4 per cent, 13,568,716 votes compared to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour which secured 40.1 per cent and 12,824,737 individual votes.
Turnout was at its highest since 1997 with 68.7 per cent of the potential electorate casting a vote.
- What now?
Here’s the interesting bit.
The Conservatives are still the largest party in Parliament, and although the immediate future looks like it will be very uncomfortable for its leader there is a very good likelihood that they will be able to form a Government on a similar basis to the one which is coming to an end.
On the face of the headline numbers any party seeking an overall majority needs half of all seats plus one, therefore 326 seats. However this ignores the never dull nature of Northern Irish politics.
Assuming that Sinn Fein members, of whom there are 7 this time around, continue to refuse to take up their seats the magic number for overall control drops to 322.
But the Tories have only got 319?
Yes, but there’s more to Northern Ireland than Sinn Fein. The Democratic Unionists (DUP) have taken 10 seats appointing them virtual ‘kingmakers’.
It looks fairly unlikely that we’ll see another formal coalition, or that Theresa May and Nigel Dodds will take to the Downing Street’s Rose Garden akin to Cameron and Clegg at the start of their historic ‘bromance’.
What is quite likely is that the DUP will agree to support a Conservative Queen’s Speech and subsequent agenda on a supply and confidence basis.
Adding the DUP’s 10 to the Tories’ 319 gives the pact a (very) slim, and not at all stable overall majority – but a majority none-the-less.
- Tories are back, but what does this mean for letting agents?
Well, we know what May’s Government wanted to do in terms of fees. We’ve also witnessed a number of Conservative-led attacks on the wider private-rented sector over recent years.
As housing is a devolved issue, the DUP are unlikely to have too many demands on Westminster policy in this area so concessions are unlikely. The uncertainty will come in terms of how much leeway the new Government has to enact any legislation, and to what extent the opposition choses to make life difficult.
Logically regulating agents is a politically popular option, so may not be blocked for the sake of party political gain but this is far from clear.
We may be about to experience a ‘legislation-light‘ parliament – the first defining moment will probably be the Queen’s Speech on the 19th June, when we learn just how ambitious the 2017 Government wants to be.
Oh, and what ever happens we can look forward to yet another Housing Minister as the incumbent lost his Croydon Central seat to Labour in the early hours of this morning. Roll on the reshuffle!