Hundreds of soldiers deployed across UK to free up police hunting for Parsons Green bomber

Hundreds of soldiers deployed across UK to free up police hunting for Parsons Green bomber
Soldiers have been deployed across the UK to free up the 1,000 policemen hunting for the perpetrators of a terrorist attack at Parsons Green underground station in London, which injured 29. The national threat level has been raised to maximum.

READ MORE: Year of terror: Timeline of ISIS attacks in Great Britain

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said military personnel would take over guard duty at certain “protected sites,” freeing up police to be deployed on the transportation network and on streets across the country.

“For this period, military personnel will replace police officers on guard duties at certain protected sites,” May said in a televised statement.

“The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets providing extra protection. This is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses,”she added.

The use of military personnel to assist police is part of Operation Temperer, a British government measure designed to deploy troops at important security points to help police following terrorist attacks. The plan was activated for the first time on May 23 following the Manchester Arena attack in which a suicide bomber killed 22 people, many of them children, after an Ariana Grande concert.

Police say they are “chasing down suspects,” with hundreds of law enforcement officials examining CCTV footage following the London tube attack.

No arrests have been made so far, but counter-terrorism police chief Mark Rowley said the investigation was making “really good progress.”

“We’re chasing down suspects,” he told reporters, as cited by AFP.

“Somebody has planted this improvised explosive device on the Tube. We have to be open-minded at this stage about him and potential associates.”

Metropolitan Police said earlier on Friday that an improvised explosive device [IED] went off in an underground carriage. They also said the IED did not fully detonate.

The attack could have been carried out by domestically radicalized people, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof believes. Speaking to RT, he said that there is anticipation of further attacks in Europe, given the wave of terrorism that has recently hit the region.

“It is not only returning jihadists, but radicalized people who never probably got to the battlefield,” Maloof told RT.

People should go back to daily business, because “if they don’t then, then the terrorists will win,” he said. However, people should stay vigilant and report anything suspicious, as terrorists choose “soft targets” and places with low security to cause maximum damage.

“To see an object sitting in the tube and no one said anything is bizarre to me, given the heightened awareness they should already be exercising. The fact that it was not reported to authorities is troubling,” Maloof said.

Courtesy, RT

As London lures Saudi oil giant, RT looks at UK’s history of rule-bending for its questionable ally

As London lures Saudi oil giant, RT looks at UK’s history of rule-bending for its questionable ally
Serious questions are being raised over controversial proposals that could lure the multi-trillion share listing of Saudi Arabia oil giant Aramco to London. RT UK looks at some other times Britain has been accused of bending the rules for its close ally.

London is battling with stock exchanges around the world to host the lucrative float of Saudi state-owned Aramco, which is said to be valued at more than £1.5 trillion – a figure that would make it the biggest share floatation in history. A listing in the capital would be seen as a major victory for the City and boost the UK economy in the wake of Brexit.

Aramco plans to list five percent of its shares in London or another stock market in the West. Current UK rules state more than 25 percent of shares should be listed to stop a single shareholder having too much dominance.

However, proposals put forward by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) could allow for Aramco to sidestep the rules and qualify for a “premium” listing.

It is certainly not the first time Britain has let Saudi Arabia play by its own rules. From ignoring human rights abuses in the country to burying terrorism reports, the UK is not afraid to turn a blind eye to preserve its lucrative relationship with the Gulf kingdom.

What terrorism report?

A report into terrorism funding in the UK has been permanently shelved, sparking widespread condemnation amid claims the government is trying to cover up substantial evidence of Saudi Arabia funding terrorist organizations in Britain.

The report, commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron, will not be published because of “national security reasons” and the “vast amount of personal information” it contains, according to the government.

READ MORE: Theresa May denies suppressing report on Saudi terrorism funding to protect UK arms deals

However, critics say Prime Minister Theresa May is sitting on the report in order to protect diplomatic ties and lucrative trade deals with Saudi Arabia.

Britain and Yemen

When Britain’s part in the Middle Eastern crisis is mentioned, many people would think of Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. But Britain’s role in the destabilization and destruction of Yemen is often lost in the mainstream media.

In the last two years, the UK has licensed the sale of £3 billion (US$3.86 billion) worth of arms to the Saudi government. The sales have come under sustained scrutiny since the start of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.

Amnesty International says the airstrikes are killing and injuring thousands of civilians, adding that some attacks are“indiscriminate, disproportionate or directed against civilian objects including schools, hospitals, markets and mosques.”

The United Nations estimates around 2.5 million people have been displaced during the conflict, and 17,000 people have died.

Despite this, Britain appears to be turning a blind eye to the conflict, with Saudi Arabia remaining the UK’s most important weapons client.
Arms sales have included Typhoon and Tornado jets and the UK has had military personnel embedded in Saudi headquarters throughout the Yemen conflict.

Silence over human rights abuses

Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has repeatedly been called into question.

Saudi authorities continue their arbitrary arrests, trials and convictions of peaceful dissidents, curbing freedom of expression. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists continue to serve long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms.

Women face discrimination, as do religious minorities. Women cannot drive a car, wear clothes that “show off their beauty,”interact with men they are not related to in public, or try on clothes when shopping.

Sharia law is national law. Judges routinely sentence defendants to floggings of hundreds of lashes. Children can be tried for capital crimes and sentenced as adults if there are physical signs of puberty.

Despite this, May has no problem traveling to Riyadh to mingle with Saudi Arabia’s leaders. One of her first international visits since triggering Article 50 was to Saudi Arabia for a visit she hoped will “herald a further intensification” in relations.

Blair drops arms investigation

In 2006, Tony Blair’s government abandoned a corruption investigation into a multibillion-pound arms deal between British Aerospace Systems (BAE) and Saudi Arabia, after Saudi threats of “repercussions.”

The Serious Fraud Office was looking into allegations of fraud, corruption and bribery allegations involving the Saudi royals and BAE in its Al Yamamah arms deal.

According to court documents released in 2008, Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless the probe was dropped – and Blair caved, claiming “British lives on British streets” were at risk.

The dropping of the inquiry triggered an international outcry, with allegations Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties.
In 2008, the High Court ruled Blair’s government broke the law when it abandoned the investigation.

Courtesy, RT

London fire: Protesters storm town hall

  • 12 minutes ago
  • From the sectionUK
Media captionAngry protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall, demanding answers

Protesters demanding help for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire have stormed Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall with a list of demands.

Between 50 and 60 people broke off from a protest outside to go into the council building.

One member of the public said people made homeless needed help “right now”.

After meeting survivors near Grenfell Tower, Theresa May announced a £5m fund to pay for emergency supplies, food, clothes and other costs.

There were angry scenes outside the Clement James Centre, in North Kensington, where the meeting had been held.

The Press Association reported one woman was crying at the scene saying it was because the prime minister had declined to speak to anyone outside.

Earlier, the Queen and Prince William visited a relief centre for the victims, while the missing could number about 70, the BBC understands.

Police say at least 30 people died as a result of the west London blaze and are likely to be among the 70. Three of those who died have been identified.

There was nothing to suggest the fire was started deliberately, police said.

The town hall protest began at around 15:00 BST and scores have since joined it.

Protesters outside the Town HallImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionProtesters outside the Town Hall had a list of demands for the council

At around 16:30 BST, people began to rush up the steps and make their way into the building.

One member of the public said people made homeless by the fire needed help “right now”, adding: “Nobody knows what is happening. People are so angry. Those people shouldn’t be sleeping in the street”.

The organisers of the protest said council leaders would not come out to talk to them, but had released a statement, promising to rehouse as many people locally as they could and to provide funding for those affected.

However, they refused to give out the number of people who lived in the tower block – which was one of the protesters’ demands, organisers said.

Public ‘not satisfied’ with answers

Mustafa Al Mansur, who organised the protest, said the council’s response was “flimsy” with “no concrete answers”.

“The people were not satisfied with the answers,” he told BBC News. “The people were getting frustrated and they walked towards the building. They did not force themselves inside. They got inside the main building and were in the foyer, just speaking.”

Police then arrived on the scene and formed a barricade, which Mr Al Mansur said led to “physical confrontation” between the two sides.

“We would like the chief executive of the council to make public commitments on what the council is going to do for the victims of this borough, and for all the other buildings in the borough that [could] stand the same fate at Grenfell Towers.”

Protesters inside the buildingImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionBetween 50 and 60 protesters rushed into the council building

The £5m Grenfell Tower Residents’ Discretionary Fund, announced by Mrs May, includes the aim to rehouse residents within three weeks as close to where they lived before as possible, to pay for temporary housing in the meantime and to provide extra financial assistance.

During her meeting with survivors, the PM also said they would be consulted on the terms of the public inquiry announced on Thursday and receive state funding for legal representation.

Mrs May said: “Everyone affected by this tragedy needs reassurance that the government is there for them at this terrible time – and that is what I am determined to provide.”

Royal visit

The Queen and Duke of Cambridge met volunteers, residents and community representatives during their visit to the Westway Sports Centre.

The Queen paid tribute to the “bravery” of firefighters and the “incredible generosity” of volunteers now offering support.

Media captionThe Queen meets people affected by the Grenfell Tower fire

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said that of those who were killed, one died in hospital.

He also said there was nothing to suggest that the fire was started deliberately, and that everyone in hospital has now been identified. Police say some of those killed in the fire may never be identified.

The fire broke out shortly before 01:00 BST on Wednesday.

It tore through all floors of the building and took more than 200 firefighters 24 hours to bring it under control.

Mahad Egal, who escaped his fourth floor flat with his family, said: “At first it seemed it was controllable, but really quickly the fire started to rise as the cladding caught fire. It is incredible we survived.”

Emergency services are spending a third day searching for bodies in the burnt-out Grenfell Tower in North Kensington.

Fire chiefs say they do not expect to find more survivors. Police have launched a criminal investigation into the fire and PM Theresa May has ordered a public inquiry.

The Queen being shown food suppliesImage copyrightPA
Image captionHer Majesty was shown the food supplies donated to those made homeless by the fire

The prime minister faced criticism for not meeting survivors on a visit to the scene on Thursday, unlike Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

When Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom visited the scene, a man shouted: “Why are Sadiq Khan and Corbyn coming down here to speak to people and Theresa May is coming here with police, walking around, not meeting no-one, not meeting families?

“Enough is enough, I have got friends in that tower. We have a right to be angry.”

Downing Street said the purpose of her visit was to get a briefing from emergency services and she later announced a public inquiry.

But former cabinet minister Michael Portillo said the prime minister “didn’t use her humanity”.

Prime Minister Theresa May with firefightersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe prime minister spoke to fire commissioner Dany Cotton as she surveyed the damage

So far in the investigation:

  • Six victims of the blaze have been provisionally identified by police
  • A total of 24 people remained in hospital – 12 in a critical condition
  • A criminal investigation has been launched
  • MPs have called for the public inquiry to be “swift” and get answers on safety as quickly as possible
  • Mr Khan has written an open letter to the prime minister, calling for her plan to help the community “as a matter of urgency”.
  • Mrs May is chairing a cross-Whitehall meeting on how to help the community recover
  • UK councils are carrying out urgent reviews of their tower blocks, according to the Local Government Association
  • The British Red Cross has launched an appeal to raise money for those affected
  • The emergency number for people concerned about friends and family is 0800 0961 233
Media captionMetropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the recovery is being done with dignity

The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council told BBC Two’s Newsnight it would not use the type of cladding fitted to Grenfell Tower on other buildings in the borough.

The cladding – installed on the tower in a recent renovation – has come under scrutiny, with experts saying a more fire resistant type could have been used.

Grenfell Tower

On Thursday, the first victim of the fire was named as Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali, 23.

The Syria Solidarity Campaign said Mr Alhajali, a civil engineering student, had been in a flat on the 14th floor when the fire broke out, and had spent two hours on the phone to a friend in Syria.

Media captionVictim’s brother recounts final call: “He said: ‘Why did you leave me?’.”

He had been trying to get through to his family while he was waiting to be rescued.

His older brother, Omar, told the BBC he had lost Mohammed on the way out of the building.

Two other victims have also been named.

Five-year-old Isaac Shawo reportedly got separated from his family in the smoke and later died.

Artist and photographer Khadija Saye, 24, lived on the 20th floor and also died.

At the scene

By Peter Hunt, BBC royal correspondent

This is the British monarchy, in action, showing it has learnt from its mistakes of the past.

Mistakes that have included the significant time that elapsed before the Queen visited the site of the Aberfan disaster in the 1960s and the “Show us you care” newspaper headlines that were printed 20 years ago, in the days following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

As Theresa May is learning to her cost, it is a tragedy with a growing political dimension. There is a howl of pain and anger being directed at an establishment which has the royals at its heart.

There’s the talk of the divide between rich and poor. The Queen’s grandson is a millionaire prince living in a palace in the same borough as Grenfell Tower.

In coming to the site, the Queen was acting as “head of the nation” – a focal point at a moment of considerable pain. She was also providing her prime minister with a masterclass in how to respond on such occasions.

Read more from Peter Hunt here

Stories of how people managed to escape have also emerged.

Christos Fairbairn, 41, a resident who lived on the 15th floor, described how he collapsed while fleeing the building, only to be rescued by a firefighter.

“I can’t believe I am alive,” he said. “I will never forget what happened and how traumatising it was. I know I will never live in a tower block again.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Elpidio Bonifacio, a partially blind man in his 70s, was rescued from his 11th-floor flat after having been seen at the window waving a jumper.

His son Gordon, 41, said on Facebook that his father was now in intensive care.

Media captionLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the site and spoke to locals

Rydon, the company that carried out the £8.6m refurbishment of the tower, welcomed the public inquiry, but said it had met all building and fire regulations, plus health and safety standards.

Housing minister Alok Sharma said the government was working with the local authority to ensure that “every single family will be rehoused in the local area” – but Kensington and Chelsea Council said it may “have to explore housing options… in other parts of the capital.”

Media captionOne eyewitness said he saw people blinking lights within the building

British government in crisis as Brexit talks loom

Theresa May’s poor election showing has put Britain in a tough spot. While the prime minister is attempting to form a government, EU leaders have said they do not want to extend the deadline for Brexit talks.

Großbritannien Theresa May Gottesdienst in Sonning (Reuters/N. Hall)

When Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March, thus beginning the formal process of Britain’s exit from the European Union, she did not realize she would soon be fighting for her political life.

Article 50, which was not designed to make things easy for the country exiting the EU, sets a strict two-year timeline for talks, giving Britain until March 2019 to conclude discussions. EU leaders have indicated they do not want to extend this deadline: “We don’t know when Brexit talks start. We know when they must end,” Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tweeted on Friday.

Talks had been expected to begin on June 19. But after Britain’s shock election result on June 9, in which the Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority, that looks increasingly unrealistic.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the UK government enters these negotiations tremendously diminished, and the absence of a clear mandate risks further destabilizing what was already likely to be a difficult, complex process,” Sophie Gaston, head of international projects at the think tank Demos, told DW. “Triggering Article 50 before an election was grossly arrogant and has left the country in a highly vulnerable position. We can delay the start date for talks as long as we wish, but the clock will not stop ticking on their end date.”

Minority report

May is seeking an arrangement with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that would shore up the Conservatives as a minority government, but that still hangs in the balance. Downing Street is presently unable to confirm whether it will be able to produce a Queens Speech – in which the government sets out a legislative program – on Monday.

Arlene Foster, Parteichefin der nordirischen DUP und Theresa May (picture-alliance/empics/C. McQuillan)May is seeking a minority government with the DUP

While negotiations over a deal with the DUP continue, May has completed a cabinet reshuffle, bringing back her adversary – and leading Brexiteer – Michael Gove to the frontbench, in the position of environment secretary. Many other key roles, such as Amber Rudd as home secretary and Phillip Hammond as chancellor of the exchequer, remained unchanged.

“The reshuffle is about creating a sense of continuity – minimal upheaval and bringing in a few other ‘safe pairs of hands’ to the Cabinet,” said Gaston. “The Conservative Party is understandably nervous about fighting another election, so it needs to minimize disruption and avoid polarizing figures.”

At the moment, senior members of the cabinet and the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers are all desperate to avoid an immediate election and to get started on Brexit talks. But operating as a minority government has pragmatic ramifications. “There’s a hugely important practical impact to this diminishment,” said BBC journalist Mark Mardell. “Any minority government is hostage to the whim of MPs.”

Unclear path

It is so far unclear what effect the Conservatives’ reduced parliamentary position will have on Brexit negotiations. Some commentators have interpreted the election result as a rejection of May’s approach so far – but it is a mixed picture.

“Parliaments without majorities are more prone to politicking and point-scoring than most,” Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, an organization representing business leaders, told DW. “If we do indeed see a minority government, both sides of the aisle must swallow their pride and work on a cross-party basis on the most important issues. The last thing business needs is a parliament in paralysis, and the consequences for British businesses and for the UK as an investment destination would be severe.”

Despite the enormity of the constitutional challenge facing Britain, cross-party collaboration does not seem to be on the agenda, with partisan animosity soaring. “It would be hugely helpful for the country as a whole to have the best minds working together – but the insecurities and opportunities this chaotic outcome presents to both the Conservatives and Labour means there will strong voices from both sides to favor partisanship,” said Gaston.

While May struggles to stay in office, questions have been raised about her ability to carry Britain through this period. “The damage that will be caused by Brexit will be more directly caused by May’s sequence of bad decisions than by the actual referendum result,” lawyer and legal commentator David Allen Green told DW. “The UK is now three months into the Article 50 process and it seems we are in a worse position because of May’s frolic of a general election than when the UK made the notification.”


Theresa May’s Conservatives in disarray, but still in power

Theresa May has lost her parliamentary majority, but remains in power thanks to a nationalist Northern Irish party. But May’s position as prime minister and the future of her Conservative Party remains uncertain.

Watch video01:28

EU leaders fear Brexit negotiation delays

On Thursday night, British Prime Minister Theresa May had to stand next to a self-proclaimed intergalactic space lord wearing a home-made bucket on his head while her re-election as Member of Parliament for the constituency of Maidenhead was confirmed.

It turned out to be a neat metaphor of the specific disarray that the prime minister found herself in on the morning after her ill-advised snap election. As was confirmed Friday morning, Britain’s governing Conservative Party has now been forced into seeking the support of a party that many would consider only slightly less fringe than Lord Buckethead.

After negotiations that reportedly went on long into the night – even as votes were still being counted – May made a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), an ultra-conservative populist right-wing faction that eventually offered the support their ten MPs that would allow her Tories to form a minority government.

Where now for May?

The move created some uncertainties over future Brexit negotiations, particularly with regard to the UK’s Irish border. But that was a small price to pay for May, because it headed off the immediate calls for May’s resignation from both the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and some in her own party.

Nevertheless, on Friday UK bookmakers were still speculating about who would succeed her as the next Conservative leader. The leadership battle that May won last July in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation showed how pitiless leading Tories can be, and they will now be smelling blood.

At the moment there are a handful of names on the table, should May’s support waver – which is not unlikely. There were rumors of her personal unpopularity within the party even before the election, and, as one senior British political editor noted, those rumors have hardly gone away:

Senior Tory MP: “We all f***ing hate her. But there is nothing we can do. She has totally f***ed us”.

Nest of blue vipers

Chief among the potential replacements is the relentlessly ambitious Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, former magazine editor and London mayor who went on to become one of the leaders of the “Leave” campaign in last June’s EU referendum. But there was some suspicion of opportunism around his loyalties, not least because he delayed his announcement about which side he was on, and wrote two separate articles arguing both sides of the case.

Another senior Tory who may have his eye on the top seat is Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who is known to disagree with May on some key policies, and – as a “Remainer” who, by dint of his position, would have been instrumental in the Brexit negotiations in any case, could well be seen as a stable option in the middle of the Conservatives turmoil.

Großbritannien Wahlen 2017 – Wahlausgang - Boris Johnson (picture alliance/ Akmen)Boris Johnson is the bookies’ favorite to succeed May

Less likely to take over, according to bookmakers, is Amber Rudd, May’s successor as Home Secretary and stand-in for the TV leadership debate that May was criticized for not attending.

Despite her high-profile appearances in the campaign, Rudd struggled during those debates and was left to defend the Conservative cuts to policing in the UK after the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London. Not only that, her authority was somewhat diminished by the fact that it took multiple recounts on Thursday night to confirm that she had retained her seat.

But if May stays as leader, perhaps the more pressing headache facing the Tories will be what direction its politics will take. Much like Angela Merkel in Germany, May dragged her party to the right with ever more restrictive anti-immigration policies in an attempt to defend the party against the rise of the populist far-right party.

That tactic may have worked – insofar as UKIP was effectively crushed on Thursday – but it ultimately meant the Tories fought a relentlessly negative, fear-based campaign that clearly did not appeal to younger voters. Whether May and her Conservatives have learnt that lesson remains to be seen.



UK election result: What does it mean for Brexit?

  • 5 hours ago
  • From the sectionEurope
UK Theresa May election night speech in MaidenheadImage copyrightEPA
Image captionThe result was far from the “strong and stable” position that Theresa May wanted

So what does the UK political upheaval mean for Brexit negotiations, slated to start in 10 days’ time?

And does the hung parliament indicate that a hard Brexit, a softer Brexit or a cliff-edge Brexit (where there’s no deal and the UK simply “falls out” of the EU) becomes more likely?

All questions redirected firmly today by Brussels back to the Dover side of the Channel.

The ball is very much in Britain’s court.

Brexit – to state the obvious – has been driven by Britain all along.

Almost a year ago, the UK voted to leave the EU. Since then it has been riven by divisions between Leavers and Remainers, and between fans of so-called hard Brexit – where the UK leaves the EU single market and the customs union – and a softer Brexit, where the UK maintains the benefits of those associations.

It was the British government that delayed the possible start of face-to-face Brexit negotiations, by calling a snap election. And it is the new British government that can say, again, it needs more time, s’il vous plaît.

EU negotiators ready

The EU position is that it never wanted the UK to leave, but since Brexit is happening, it is ready and waiting.

While the UK has struggled internally with political turmoil ever since its referendum, Brussels has had almost 12 months to quietly get its Brexit ducks in a row and ensure a unified and detailed negotiating position, on behalf of the 27 member states, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Vote count in Kendal, EnglandImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe results have shown again how politically divided the UK is

Theresa May called the general election, she said, hoping for a strong mandate, to improve her hand at the Brexit negotiating table.

This plan has backfired horribly.

But Brussels is not rubbing its hands with glee. It wants Brexit done and over with. Yesterday.

The EU has plenty more headaches to deal with: ongoing migration and eurozone problems, security concerns about Russia and an unpredictable US president… to name but a few.

UK election result: How the world reacted

Election 2017: Key points at-a-glance

Brexit: All you need to know

What the election result means for Brexit

Brussels doesn’t care what political flavour the new UK government has, it just wants a stable UK government, with a secure prime minister at its helm, who will stay in place for the duration of the negotiations and who won’t waver and U-turn after agreements are made.

A wobbly British premier, unable to make tough decisions and sell them at home, increases the possibility of no Brexit deal at all – the so-called cliff-edge scenario – and that would hurt both the EU and UK badly.

Banks, businesses, ports and flights, the politically sensitive and economically significant Irish border, EU citizens living in the UK, UK citizens in the rest of the EU, UK healthcare – the list is endless UK-side.

The EU’s pressing concern is to get the UK to honour long-term financial commitments before it leaves, otherwise there’ll be a yawning hole in Brussels’ multi-annual budget.

EU unity – currently so evident on the Brexit question – would evaporate in a flash if member states suddenly had a cat fight over having to pay extra, or receive less money, should the UK walk out without stumping up a considerable sum.

Michel Barnier (R) from France and Guy Verhofstadt from BelgiumImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionKey EU players in Brexit: Michel Barnier (R) from France and Guy Verhofstadt from Belgium

On a day full of unanswered questions, one thing is certain: that clock is ticking.

The UK formally launched the Brexit process back in March. It now has only until March 2019 to secure a divorce settlement, never mind decide future EU-UK trade and other relations.

The later Brexit talks start, the less time there is to agree a deal.

The UK can always request an extension to the negotiations; it could also ask to cancel the process and return to the EU fold – though no one in Brussels believes that likely to happen. But both those scenarios require unanimous approval by the 27 EU countries and the European Parliament.

Theresa May’s dream of providing strong and stable leadership is in tatters.

But the political disarray in the UK has helped the EU in some quarters. It has dampened (though not extinguished) Eurosceptic rhetoric across the continent. And determination to protect the EU in a Brexit deal has united normally fractious EU member states – for now.

Today, after so many of its own crises, the EU is feeling stronger and more stable than it has in a long time, thanks to Brexit.

May to form ‘government of certainty’ with DUP backing

Media captionTheresa May says she’ll “reflect on what we need to do to take the party forward”

Theresa May has said she will put together a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists that can provide “certainty” for the future.

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 was “sorry” for colleagues who lost their seats.

But Labour said they were the “real winners”.

The Lib Dems said Mrs May should be “ashamed” of carrying on.

The Tories needed 326 seats to win another majority but, with 649 out of the 650 seats declared, they fell short and must rely on the DUP to continue to rule.

In a short statement outside Downing Street, which followed a 25-minute audience with The Queen, Mrs May said she would join with her DUP “friends” to “get to work” on Brexit.

She said she intended to form a government which could “provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country”.

Referring to the “strong relationship” she had with the DUP but giving little detail of how their arrangement might work, she said the government would “guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks” that begin in just 10 days’ time.

“Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years,” she said.

“And this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”

Theresa May speaks to the nation outside Downing StreetImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMrs May’s husband was at her side as she addressed the nation
Mrs May's car leaves Buckingham PalaceImage copyrightPA
Image captionThe PM earlier visited Buckingham Palace

Later, she told reporters that she “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.”

A cabinet reshuffle, expected later today, looks likely to be pushed back to Saturday, says BBC political correspondent Eleanor Garnier.

Sources have told the BBC that Boris Johnson is expected to stay as foreign secretary, Philip Hammond as chancellor, and Amber Rudd as home secretary.

Those rarely seen on the campaign trail, including Andrea Leadsom, Priti Patel and Liam Fox, could be out, says our correspondent. Comebacks from Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove and prominent leave campaigner Dominic Raab were being floated, she adds.

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.

Media caption“The union is our guiding star” – DUP’s Arlene Foster

It is thought Mrs May will seek some kind of informal arrangement with the DUP that could see it “lend” its support to the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis, known as “confidence and supply”.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab said the country needed “certainty and direction”, and an agreement between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party was the “only viable option”.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said the PM had returned to No 10 a “diminished figure”, having ended up with 12 fewer seats than when she called the election in April.

Media captionJeremy Corbyn: An “incredible result” for the Labour party

She had called the election with the stated reason that it would strengthen her hand in negotiations for the UK to leave the EU – the talks are due to start on 19 June.

But with the London seat of Kensington yet to declare, the Tories are on 318 seats, ahead of Labour on 261, the SNP 35 and the Lib Dems on 12. The DUP won 10 seats.

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 manoeuvre.

Hung parliament

The Conservatives have argued in the event of a hung Parliament, Mrs May gets the opportunity to form a government first, as her predecessor David Cameron did in 2010 when there was also no clear winner but the party had comfortably more seats than their nearest rival.

Labour has said it is also ready to form a minority government of its own, after far exceeding expectations by picking up 29 seats in England, Wales and Scotland.

But even if it joined together in a so-called progressive alliance with the SNP, Lib Dems, Green Party and Plaid Cymru, it would only reach 313 seats – well short of the 326 figure needed.

Mrs May has faced calls to quit from within her own party, with Anna Soubry saying she should consider her position after a “disastrous” campaign.

However, other MPs have urged her to stay on, with Iain Duncan Smith saying a leadership contest would be a “catastrophe”.

Media captionUKIP’s Paul Nuttall: “I am standing down with immediate effect”

The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the DUP did not regard Mrs May as a “permanent fixture” and this raised the possibility of a change in leader in the summer, given that he believed serious progress over Brexit was unlikely to be made before the German parliamentary elections in September.

Reacting to the result, European Council president Donald Tusk said there was now “no time to lose” over Brexit, while the European Parliament’s chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said it was an “own goal” and made negotiations more “complicated”.

Mr Corbyn, speaking after being re-elected in Islington North, said it was time for Mrs May to “make way” for a government that would be “truly representative of the people of this country”. He later told the BBC it was “pretty clear who has won this election”.

“We are ready to serve the people who have put their trust in us,” he said – but he also stressed he would not enter into any “pacts or deals” with other parties.

Unite union leader Len McCluskey said Labour’s result was “an incredible advance” and it would not be long before they were in government.

The Green Party, which held its one seat at the election but saw its total vote halve, said a Conservative government propped up by the DUP would be a “coalition of chaos”.

In other major developments:

Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, which gained three seats taking its total to seven, said it had been a “very good election for republicanism”, and appealed for “calm reflection” on how to go forward.

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 on 19 June.

Meanwhile, UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has quit after his party failed to win any seats and saw its vote collapse across the country.

Media captionNicola Sturgeon says the SNP ‘will listen to voters’

In a night of high drama, the SNP remained the largest party in Scotland but lost 21 seats to the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems. Leading figures in the party such as Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson were defeated.

Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg also lost his seat while Tim Farron clung on by less than 800 votes in his Cumbrian constituency.

But Vince Cable and Jo Swinson are among the Lib Dems returning to the Commons after winning their former seats back.

In more results from the night:

Speaking after a mixed night of results for his party, Mr Farron paid tribute to Mr Clegg and the other MPs who lost their seats.

Mrs May had “put the future of the country at risk with arrogance and vanity”, he added, saying she should resign “if she has an ounce of self respect”.