With just 16 seats left to declare, the Conservatives have won 309 seats, meaning they cannot get an overall majority in the 650-seat House of Commons.
May last night declared the need for a “period of stability” in the aftermath of an exit poll flagging the results, but did not indicate if she would seek to lead a coalition government or if she intended to stay on as Prime Minister, sparking speculation that her leadership could be in doubt.
The Tories are set to secure 318 seats, a loss of 13, according to the latest BBC forecasts. Labour, after staging an unexpected political fightback, are expected to nab thirty extra seats for a total of 262, the broadcaster predicted. Sky News predicts a result of 315 to 321 seats for the Conservatives.
Jeremy Corbyn has called on Theresa May to resign and “make way for a government that is truly representative of this country."
Attention now turns to the minor parties in Britain’s 650-seat parliament, including Northern Ireland’s traditionally conservative Democratic Unionist Party, and the centrist Liberal Democrats, who governed in a coalition with the Conservatives from 2010 to 2015.
The Liberal Democrats saw their support crumble after five bruising years as the junior partner in the coalition, although have staged a slight comeback, and are expected to claim 13 seats.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron ruled out the possibility of entering a coalition with May. There was no immediate comment from a representative from the DUP on whether they will enter negotiations with May.
As the incumbent Prime Minister, May is given first shot at gathering the requisite support to form a government. Only if she fails will the task then fall to Labour.
Starting out as contest over May’s desire for a strong hand in upcoming negotiations over the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the campaign was thrown off course by consecutive Islamic terror attacks in Manchester and London, thrusting the parties into a debate about security and policing.
The results have cast a shadow over the future of Theresa May, a straight-laced pastor’s daughter who ascended to the Tory leadership only last year after the resignation of former Prime Minister David Cameron.
Anna Soubry, a prominent government minister, overnight fueled the speculation by saying: "She's in a very difficult place, she's a remarkable and a very talented woman and she doesn't shy from difficult decisions, but she now has to obviously consider her position."
Sterling fell nearly two percent against the dollar on the back of the exit poll, as investors questioned who was now going to control the Brexit process.
Early newspaper editions reflected the drama, with headlines such as "Britain on a knife edge", "Mayhem" and "Hanging by a thread".
Meanwhile the Scottish National Party of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, which has dominated politics north of the border for a decade and called for a new independence vote after Brexit, was tipped to lose around 21 of its 54 seats.