Candidates of Faith are among the Winners and Losers
By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (ANS – June 9, 2017) — Days before critical negotiations on Brexit — the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union — the UK has voted in a ‘hung parliament’ with the Conservatives as the largest party, and who are now expected to form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
In a parliamentary system of government, a hung parliament is an expression used to describe a state of a parliament when no single political party (or bloc of allied parties) has an absolute majority of seats in the parliament (legislature).
The BBC reports that with nearly all results in, Theresa May ended up with 12 fewer seats than when she called the election.
The Tories won 318, Labour 261, the Scottish Nationalist Party 35 and the Liberal Democrats 12. An overall majority requires 326 seats out of a total of 650 sitting parliamentarians.
The prime minister said the country needed “stability” after the inconclusive election result, and the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mrs May intended to try and govern on the basis that her party had won the largest number of votes and seats. Mrs May has said she will put together a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists to guide the UK through crucial Brexit talks.
Speaking after visiting Buckingham Palace, she said only her party had the “legitimacy” to govern, despite falling eight seats short of a majority. Later, she said she “obviously wanted a different result” and felt “sorry” for colleagues who lost their seats.
In a short statement outside Downing Street after an audience with the Queen, in which she was understood to express her desire to form a coalition government, Mrs May said she would join with her Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) “friends” to “get to work” on Brexit. The DUP one ten seats in Northern Ireland and it was understood that it could see its way to “lending” its support to the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis, known as “confidence and supply.”
Referring to the “strong relationship” she had with the DUP, but giving little detail of how their arrangement might work, she said she intended to form a government which could “provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country.”
“Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years,” she said adding: “And this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”
Later, she told reporters that she had “wanted to achieve a larger majority but that was not the result.”
“I’m sorry for all those candidates… who weren’t successful, and also particularly sorry for MPs and ministers who’d contributed so much to our country, and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.
“As I reflect on the results, I will reflect on what I need to do in the future to take the party forward.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster confirmed that she had spoken to Mrs May and that they would speak further to “explore how it may be possible to bring stability to this nation at this time of great challenge.” While always striving for the “best deal” for Northern Ireland and its people, she said her party would always have the best interests of the UK at heart.
In another development, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has since sought assurances from Mrs May that any deal with the DUP will not affect LGBTI rights across the UK. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal.
A source close to Ms Davidson, who is gay, told the BBC: “The PM needs to remember there are more Scottish Conservatives than DUP MPs.”
As it stands, the Tories and the DUP would have 328 MPs in the Commons, giving it a wafer-thin majority although, as Sinn Fein will not be taking its seven seats, the new administration will have slightly more room for maneuver.
Turnout in Thursday’s election topped 68.7 percent — up 2 percent up on 2015 — but it has been a return to two-party politics in many parts of the country, with Labour and the Conservatives both piling up votes in numbers not seen since the 1990s and both set to top 40 percent of the vote.
The top five Cabinet positions remain unchanged, according to a statement from 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s official London residence.
* Chancellor of the Exchequer: Philip Hammond
*Secretary of State for the Home Department: Amber Rudd
*Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Boris Johnson
*Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union: David Davis
*Secretary of State for Defense: Michael Fallon
Nine Christian MPs who won and lost last night
Sam Hailes, Deputy Editor of Premier Christianity, (www.premierchristianity.com) analyzed the results of last night’s snap election among those candidates who have expressed their Christian faith.
Hailes writes: “In the midst of ‘swing-o-meters’ and statistics, it’s easy to forget that a number of hardworking MPs across the country and across the parties have just lost their jobs. The reality of living in a democracy is that politicians work for us, the people. And we the people have hired and fired hundreds of people over the past 24 hours.”
Among this list of winners and losers are a number of Christian MPs.
Alistair Burt (Conservative) – North East Bedfordshire, has held his seat, with a large majority of close to 20,000 votes. Burt has been an MP since 2001 and held various positions in Conservative governments since. From May 2010 to October 2013 he was the Foreign Office Minister responsible for North Africa and the Middle East. In an exclusive interview with Premier, the active Christian said the job was “the best junior government job in parliament.”
John Glen (Conservative) – Salisbury, took 58.1 percent of the vote — a 2.5 percent increase from 2015. The MP — who lists among his interests Defense, Foreign Policy and beginning and end of life issues — sits on a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups including ‘Historic Churches’ and ‘Suicide and self-harm prevention.’ Glen has also been praised for his interaction with his constituents. According to a survey by www.WriteToThem.com, Glen was ranked as the second most responsive MP. Overall, MPs responded to only 56 percent of mail sent to them through the site, while John Glen responded to 95 per cent.
Alister Carmichael (Liberal Democrats) – Shetland and Orkney, has been returned as an MP in a landslide victory – receiving nearly half of all votes cast. Carmichael is an elder in the Church of Scotland and has voted in favor of same sex marriage and assisted suicide. He has a particular interest in Transport and Trade.
Chris Bryant (Labour) – Rhondda, tweeted this morning: “Delighted I’ve nearly doubled my majority but fair play @jeremycorbyn has massively outperformed expectations.” But the MP, who is a former Anglican Priest and once published a book on Christian Socialism, said earlier this year that he’s “given up” on the Church after its refusal to recognize same sex marriage. Nevertheless, he is still listed as a ‘Christians on the Left’ candidate on their website.
Marsha Chantol De Cordova (Labour) – Battersea, who is part of Christians on the Left, has defeated the Conservative Minister Jane Ellison to win her seat in Battersea, South London. She received 25,292 votes, compared to Ellison’s 22,876. Chantol De Cordova’s Twitter profile says: “Love God Hate injustice & inequality.” Upon winning the seat, she tweeted, “I am immensely honored that the people of Battersea elected me as their MP. I will work for a better future for all my constituents.”
David Burrowes (Conservative) – Enfield Southgate, a longstanding MP and well-known Christian face in politics, lost his seat which comes as a big shock to many. The co-founder of the Conservative Christian Fellowship has long been a proud backbencher and voted against assisted suicide and gay marriage. Describing himself as an “evangelical Christian,” Burrowes said in an interview with Conservative Home he has a strong commitment to social justice and “could perhaps have ended up as a youth worker if I didn’t become a criminal defense lawyer and then a politician.”
Caroline Ansell (Conservative) – was always going to be in a tight race between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for the seat in Eastbourne. In the end there were only 1,600 votes in it as Ansell lost out to the town’s former MP and Liberal Democrat candidate Stephen Lloyd. Ansell is a member of King’s Church and tended to vote in line with her party. She received widespread criticism locally for backing the Government’s U-turn on child refugees from Syria.
Nicola Blackwood (Conservative) – with a majority of 10,000 in her constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon, no one expected the Health minster to lose her seat to Liberal Democrat Layla Moran. The 37-year-old became an MP in 2010 and attends St Aldates, Oxford — a large charismatic evangelical church. In an interview with the diocese of Oxford, Blackwood said, “There are Christians in every party and no party has a claim to righteousness. There are more Christians in Parliament proportionally than in the population at large. We have prayers every morning and it is the one moment in the day when you are not on camera and what you say is not going to be taken down and used against you. We have chaplains and there are resources for people of all faiths.”
Rob Flello (Labour) – Stoke South, a Catholic MP, lost his seat to 26-year-old Jack Brereton, meaning the Conservatives have gained a seat in Stoke-on-Trent for the first time in more than 80 years. Flello had been an MP since 2005 and consistently fought against plans to legalise assisted suicide and relax the law around abortion. Outspoken on many issues, Flello also campaigned in favor of religious freedom.
Lord O’Donnell, formerly the UK’s top civil servant, told the BBC that the prime minister had a duty to stay in post “for now” and had the right to seek the confidence of the House of Commons by asking it to approve a Queen’s Speech, scheduled for June 19.
The BBC explained that although one party needs to get 326 seats to get an overall majority, in practice the Conservatives would be expected to be able to get a Queen’s Speech through with 318 MPs, if they had the backing of the DUP MPs.
The Queen’s Speech is the centerpiece of the State Opening of Parliament. It is one of the highlights of the Parliamentary year, full of both pageantry and political significance. In a nutshell, it is a list of the laws that the government hopes to get approved by Parliament over the coming year. By convention, it is announced by the Sovereign in the presence of MPs, peers and other dignitaries in the House of Lords.
The occasion marks the start of the Parliamentary year and has added resonance after a change of government, with the contents of the Speech highlighting the priorities of new ministers and setting the scene for Parliamentary battle ahead.
The Conservatives were forecast to win the election with 42 percent of the vote, Labour 40 percent, the Lib Dems 7 percent, UKIP 2 percent and the Greens 2 percent.
Speaking at her count in Maidenhead, Theresa May said the full picture had yet to emerge, but added: “At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability.
“And if… the Conservative Party has won the most seats and probably the most votes, then it will be incumbent on us to ensure we have that period of stability — and that is exactly what we will do.”
Questions are being asked about the potential impact on the upcoming Brexit negotiations which are due to start on June 19. The EU’s (European Union) chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has hinted that this could now be delayed, tweeting that the talks should begin only when the UK is “ready.”
Downing Street said Mrs May received congratulatory calls from French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he was pleased that she would continue to be a close partner, and US President Donald Trump, who agreed with her that they looked forward to close co-operation.
Photo captions: 1) British Prime Minister Theresa May (BBC photo). 2) Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party (BBC Photo). 3) The Prime Minister’s vehicle leaving Buckingham Palace (PA). 4) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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