In an interview to mark her first year in Number 10, the Prime Minister said she did not consider stepping down in the wake of the shock result and insisted she does not regret calling the snap election.
She also declined to say how much longer she will remain in Downing Street, saying: “I still see there is a lot that we need to do and as Prime Minister I want to get on with that job of changing people’s lives for the better.”
The PM said it was her husband Philip who told her the exit poll, which was released at 10pm on the day of the vote, projected she would lose her Commons majority.
Mrs May admitted she was “devastated” by the outcome of the 8 June vote and said it had come as a “complete shock”.
The PM said she did not watch the moment the exit poll was revealed as “I have a little bit of superstition about things like that”.
“We didn’t see the result that came coming,” she told the BBC.
“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.”
Mrs May said it was “distressing” to see good colleagues losing their seats.
While she admitted she knew the campaign “wasn’t going perfectly”, the PM said she had still expected a “better” result.
When asked if she was devastated enough to shed a tear, Mrs May replied: “Yes, a little tear … at that moment.”
During the 20-minute interview, Mrs May insisted she had never considered quitting in the wake of the poll disaster.
She said: “I felt, I suppose, devastated really because, as I say, I knew the campaign wasn’t going perfectly but, still, the messages I was getting, people I was speaking to, but also the comments we were getting back from a lot of people that were being passed on to me were that we were going to get a better result than we did.
“You have a responsibility. You are a human being, you have been through that experience, I was there as leader of the party and Prime Minister and I had a responsibility then to, as we went through the night, to determine what we were going to do the next morning.
“No, I didn’t consider stepping down because I felt there was a responsibility there to ensure that the country still had a government.”
Mrs May said the Conservatives should have offered voters a more positive message during the campaign, but added she did not regret holding an early election because it was “the right thing to do at the time”.
“It can be easy sometimes if something like this happens just to walk away and leave somebody else to deal with it,” the PM said.