British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday admitted that she was “devastated” and shed “a little tear” after the exit poll result on June 8 election night revealed that she failed to win a majority in Parliament. In her most honest interview yet about the election campaign, May told the BBC that the news came as a complete shock and that she had not seen it coming when husband Philip May broke the news to her on election night.
“It took a few minutes for it to sink in…We didn’t see that result coming. My husband gave me a hug and I cried a little tear,” she said.
“When the result came through, it was a complete shock…I felt, I suppose, devastated really,” May, 60, said. This is the first time the British Prime Minister has revealed her personal feelings in the wake of the general election that saw her ruling Conservative party drop down from 331 seats to 318, missing the magic 326 mark for an overall majority and having to rely on a supply and confidence agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to get laws passed in Parliament.
May said she did not watch the exit poll herself, as “I have a little bit of superstition about things like that”. Describing the final result as “devastating” as she had to watch people she had worked with for years lose their seats, she added: “I didn’t consider stepping down because I felt there was a responsibility to ensure that the country still had a government.”
Asked about the criticism she faced for failing to acknowledge her lost majority in a speech in Downing Street the following day, she said: “At that point in time I felt what was important was giving people the confidence of knowing there was going to be a government.”
She also denied regretting that she chose to call a snap election. “I think it was the right thing to do at the time,” she said. But she wished she had put across a more positive message during the campaign and, in particular, addressed the concerns of young people, who are believed to have voted in large numbers for Labour.
The “clear message” that came through from young people was that they feared they could not get on the “property ladder”, she said.
“Looking back on the campaign, I realise now and regret that we were not making more of that,” she said. May, who insisted her government had the “humility” to “listen to the message we got from people at the election”.
One of those messages, she said, was that people wanted to see a “greater consensus” in Parliament, which was why she had appealed for support from Labour on Brexit and other policies.
May became the prime minister last year after David Cameron, who had campaigned for Britain to remain a part of the European Union, stepped down following Brexit referendum.