She is trying to produce a small working majority in coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party – despite facing calls to stand down – and is expected to visit Buckingham Palace at 12.30pm to seek permission to form a government.
DUP MPs are meeting to discuss the situation and the party has said it “will act in the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom”, according to Sky sources. A formal agreement is yet to be reached.
“They have a very delicate balance to strike between how they use this power they suddenly find themselves with, and how they ensure that anything they demand does not derail efforts to restore devolution here,” said Sky’s Ireland correspondent David Blevins.
Sky’s political editor Faisal Islam said such a deal “would complicate the relationship between the UK government and the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland”.
Sky’s senior political correspondent Beth Rigby added: “She wants to stay – I’m not getting the sense they (Conservative Party) want to push her out.”
Britain has a hung parliament after the Conservatives lost their majority on an extraordinary night.
The Tories remain the biggest party with 318 seats so far and Labour currently have 261 – with 326 required for a majority and just one seat left to be called.
This may be down to a higher youth turnout in favour of Labour. Some 69% of the electorate went to the polls, indicating young people were voting in higher numbers this time compared to two years ago, according to Sky News election analyst Professor Michael Thrasher.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on Mrs May to resign, declaring he is “ready to serve the country” after her snap General Election gamble spectacularly backfired – and a much better than expected poll for his party.
However, he has refused to be drawn on whether he would form a minority government.
Rigby said: “A Tory source tells me, ‘the Prime Minister is working to form a government because we have the largest number of seats and votes’.
“A DUP MP has told me, ‘we would consider a supply and confidence arrangement to make sure Theresa May has sufficient support to keep her in government’, but he said it would cost the Conservatives a lot.
“They would want considerably more resources for Northern Ireland, more influence and involvement in trade deals.
“That suggests it wouldn’t be a full-blown coalition – rather a confidence and supply deal. It means those 10 MPs will lend her their support on key votes so she gets things through.
“The Prime Minister and her team appear to be trying to get out on the front foot with this – she wants to hold her ground.
“A senior minister has told me that if he were her, he’d do ‘a quick deal with the DUP and break for summer’.
“It’s all moving – lots of chat behind the scenes from Conservatives furious with her for calling this election in the first place.
“This was supposed to be a ‘strong and stable’ government, it certainly does not feel like that.”
The results leave Westminster in chaos with just 10 days before the Brexit negotiations are due to begin.
In a sombre speech after retaining her seat, Mrs May said: “The country needs a period of stability and, whatever the results are, the Conservative party will fulfil our duty of ensuring that stability so we can all go forward together.”
Speaking after retaining his Islington North seat, Mr Corbyn said: “The Prime Minister called the election because she wanted a mandate. Well the mandate she has got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence.
“I would have thought that’s enough to go, actually, and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all the people of this country.”
A dramatic election night saw several “big beasts” lose their seats – with former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg the main casualty, losing his Sheffield Hallam seat to Labour’s 25-year-old candidate Jared O’Mara.
Alex Salmond, who led the SNP into the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, lost his Gordon seat to the Conservatives.
Ben Gummer, who helped write the Tory manifesto, lost his seat in Ipswich. Housing minister Gavin Barwell lost in Croydon Central and Jane Ellison’s 8,000 majority in Battersea was overturned with a 10% swing to Labour. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, only managed to cling on by 346 votes in Hastings and Rye.
The Lib Dems made gains nationally, while UKIP’s vote plummeted spectacularly from 12.6% of the vote share in 2015 to 1.9% this time around, prompting Paul Nuttall to quit as leader after his party failed to win a single seat.
In Scotland, both Labour and the Tories made gains on a bad night for the SNP.