The UK has woken up to a major poll shock, after Prime Minister Theresa May’s election gamble backfired.
The PM had hoped to increase the Conservatives’ majority in Parliament so they had a stronger mandate to deliver Brexit.
But now the country looks set for a hung parliament, after her party ended the night with fewer seats than before.
The result has sent shockwaves around Europe and beyond.
EU Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger has questioned whether talks on the UK’s departure from the EU can now start on 19 June as planned.
“No government – no negotiations,” he told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.
Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who now chairs the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, called the outcome “messy”.
“One mess risks following another. Price to be paid for lack of true leadership,” he tweeted.
Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, who is president of the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, had caustic words for Mrs May.
“Yet another own goal, after Cameron now May, will make already complex negotiations even more complicated,” he tweeted.
In Germany, tabloid Bild ran the headline “Election blow for Theresa May,” while Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt chose “May-Day”.
“The voters of the United Kingdom are insecure, angry and upset,” observed Frankfurter Allgemeine, calling it: “A vote against a hard Brexit.”
The German employers’ association has said it hopes Brexit negotiations will now be conducted with more realism and pragmatism.
In a statement, the BDA’s president Ingo Kramer said that “neither nationalism nor anti-EU rhetoric, nor left-wing social romanticism reach majorities. This message has now reached the British Isles”.
Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb and senior German MP Stephan Meyer both said Britain should be given time to form a stable government before Brexit negotiations start.
“It means instability for Britain,” Mr Meyer told German radio. “Officially Theresa May is still the partner in Brexit negotiations, but the political reality is different after this disastrous defeat. I can’t imagine that May will be able to remain prime minister.”
Labour boosted its number of seats by 29 overnight, exciting Corbyn supporters abroad.
US Senator Bernie Sanders, the former Democratic presidential nominee, told the Washington Post he was thrilled.
“I am delighted to see Labour do so well. All over the world people are rising up against austerity and massive levels of income and wealth inequality.
“People in the UK, the US and elsewhere want governments that represent all the people, not just the 1%. I congratulate Jeremy Corbyn for running a very positive and effective campaign.”
Former Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo tweeted his approval, writing: “Congratulations to @jeremycorbyn for its positive campaign and to the Labour Party for its good results #UKElection2017”
Italian daily La Repubblica declared: “May’s gamble fails, loses her majority”, and noted that voter turnout was the highest for 20 years at 69%.
In Russia, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti is claiming the Conservatives will not forgive Theresa May for the result, and predicts a new prime minister.