Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a resounding election victory on Friday that will allow him to end three years of political paralysis and take Britain out of the European Union by January 31. Brexit represents the country’s biggest political and economic gamble since World War Two, cutting the world’s fifth largest economy adrift from the vast trading bloc and threatening the integrity of the United Kingdom.
For Johnson, who campaigned on a vow to Get Brexit Done, victory was a vindication after anti-Brexit opponents tried one manoeuvre after another to thwart him during his first chaotic months in office. We will get Brexit done on time by the 31st of January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes,” a triumphant Johnson told supporters at a rally here.
Leaving the European Union as one United Kingdom, taking back control of our laws, borders, money, our trade, immigration system, delivering on the democratic mandate of the people, he said, reprising the refrains of his successful Brexit referendum campaign of 2016. Sterling soared, on course for one of its biggest one-day gains in the past two decades.
Nearly half a century after Britain joined the EU, Johnson must now strike new international trade deals, preserving London’s position as a top global financial capital and keeping the United Kingdom together. That last goal looks more challenging, with Scotland voting for a nationalist party that wants an independence referendum, and Irish nationalists performing strongly in Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson may have a mandate to take England out of the European Union. He emphatically does not have a mandate to take Scotland out of the European Union, said Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Her Scottish National Party (SNP) won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in the national parliament.
In England, the Conservatives won large numbers of seats in the opposition Labour Party’s so-called Red Wall, declining industrial heartlands once hostile to Johnson’s party. Brexit, which has shattered old party loyalties and divided Britain along new fault lines, was the cause of the shift.
In the Red Wall, a majority of voters favoured leaving the European Union and rejected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ambiguous stance on the issue. In a symbolic win, the Conservatives took Sedgefield, once held by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Labour’s most successful leader. Educated at Eton, the country’s most elite private school, and known for his bombastic rhetoric, Johnson seemed to critics to be an unlikely candidate to win over working class communities, but Brexit helped him redraw the electoral map.
In his victory speech, he struck a rare note of humility as he addressed voters who had deserted Labour in his favour. Your hand may have quivered over the ballot paper before you put your cross in the Conservative box, and you may hope to return to Labour next time round, and if that is the case, I am humbled that you have put your trust in me.
, he said.