LONDON (AP) - The two top aides to British Prime Minister Theresa Mayresigned Saturday, shouldering some of the blame for an election that proved a disaster for the Conservative Party, a headache for Britain's exit from the European Union - and potentially a fatal blow to May's premiership.
Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who have been by May's side since she became Home Secretary in 2010, have been blamed for the disastrous election which saw them lose their majority.
I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign.
"The reason for the disappointing result was not the absence of support for Theresa May and the Conservatives but an unexpected surge in support for Labour", Timothy wrote.
Some senior Tories have made the removal of Hill and Timothy a condition for continuing to support May, who has vowed to remain prime minister despite the Conservatives' losing their overall majority in Parliament.
May's party won 318 seats, eight short of the 326 they needed for an outright majority.
"I asked for a categoric assurance that if any deal or scoping deal was done with the DUP there would be absolutely no rescission of LGBTI rights in the rest of the United Kingdom, in Great Britain, and that we would use any influence that we had to advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland", said the MP, who is a lesbian.
Mrs May, who was working on putting her Cabinet together, sent Chief Whip Gavin Williamson to Belfast for talks with DUP counterpart Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
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May is now looking to rule the country with less than 50% of seats in Parliament's House of Commons, and is banking on support from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to be the ally that helps her party push its agenda through Parliament.
In an indication of the unease within the party about the link-up with the DUP, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she had demanded a "categoric assurance" from the Prime Minister that gay rights would not be affected by a deal.
Hill told ConservativeHome that she has "no doubt at all that Theresa May will continue to serve and work hard as Prime Minister - and do it brilliantly".
"I could not care less what people get up to in terms of their sexuality".
Writing in the "Times", she said: "What I could never work out was whether May condoned their behaviour and turned a blind eye or didn't understand how destructive they both were".
A deal between the government and the DUP could also unsettle the precarious balance between Northern Ireland's British loyalist and Irish nationalist parties.
Instead, the result has sown confusion and division in British ranks, just days before negotiations are due to start on June 19.
"Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has already called on May to resign, saying 'Politics has changed" as Britons had rejected her policies of "austerity". May reportedly was given an ultimatum from a few MPs that she would have to face a leadership contest if she didn't sack the pair.
The Labour Party has said it was prepared to form a coalition government, with Mr Corbyn announcing: "We are ready to serve". "The arguments the Conservative Party put forward in this election have lost, and we need to change", he said .
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But, he lost his seat to Sarah Jones in Thursday's General Election , with the Labour candidate gaining a 5,652 vote majority. As leader of the party with the most seats, Ms May will be given the first opportunity to try to form a government.
Other EU leaders have expressed concerns the failure to win a majority may make negotiations even more hard . The voters surprised everyone by handing the Conservatives a decisive, if slim, parliamentary majority.
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