May’s Conservative Party had its governing majority wiped out in one of the most dramatic nights in British political history. The result left her facing calls for her resignation.
“We didn’t see the result that came coming,” she said. “When the result came through, it was a complete shock.”
“It took a few minutes for it to sort of sink in, what that was telling me. My husband gave me a hug,” she added, before revealing she shed a “little tear.”
May said that she had not watched the exit polls come in, claiming to have “a little bit of superstition about things like that.”
But it soon became evident that her party would fall disastrously short of the large governing majority it was seeking when May, riding high in the polls, decided in April to call early elections.
May: I thought the result would be better
May, who at the time commanded only a slim majority in parliament, said she decided to call the snap election in order to secure a strong mandate from the British public for her approach to Brexit negotiations with the EU.
In April the Conservatives held a 20-point lead in the polls over the main opposition Labour Party and were widely expected to gain a larger majority in the House of Commons.
But the party’s campaign, which was heavily criticized by several of its own members, proved unpopular with voters.
In the BBC interview released Thursday, May said that although she was aware the campaign was not “going perfectly,” she said messages being passed on to her suggested “we were going to get a better result than we did.”
May also revealed she had no thoughts of resigning in the aftermath of the result, adding: “I didn’t consider stepping down because I felt there was a responsibility to ensure that the country still had a government.”
Her decision to remain in charge has failed to quell speculation surrounding her leadership, with rumors of a challenge continuing to swirl around Westminster.
She has also attracted criticism for striking a deal with the right wing Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland in order to prop up her government and ensure a slim governing majority.
But while she has managed to keep her party in power, May is now facing another headache in the shape of Brexit.