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4 key takeaways from Boris Johnson’s landmark victory in UK elections

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have won at least 360 seats in 650-member House of Commons — largest majority since 1987 win under then PM Margret Thatcher.

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New Delhi: In a landmark election result, the Conservative Party under the leadership of Boris Johnson has won its largest majority since the 1987 Tory win under then prime minister Margret Thatcher.

In the 650-member House of Commons, the Tories with over 360 seats are well above the majority mark. Meanwhile, the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has been reduced to less than 200 seats, and is facing its worst election result in decades.

The biggest shift in this election has been the destruction of the Labour Party’s long-held “red wall”. A large number of Labour-voting constituencies in England’s Northern and Midland regions — which constituted the red wall — have all moved to the Conservative Party.

According to BBC’s Andrew Neil, this is the third biggest political shift in the UK since the election of Labour Party leader Clement Atlee in 1945 and the victory of Conservatives under Thatcher in 1979.

ThePrint looks at four big takeaways after this landmark electoral result.


Also read: Long nights and dealing with a shifting electorate — How the UK exit poll is made


Boris’ high-risk gamble paid off

After months of Brexit deadlock over the fall, Johnson declared that a general election was the only way to resolve the UK’s impasse. The election campaign was all about Brexit and the Conservatives told the voters that they would take the UK out of the European Union in a seamless fashion.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party under the hard-Left leader Corbyn campaigned for “remain” and said that if they win, they will make sure the UK continues to have a strong relationship with the European Union.

And between these contrasting hard vs soft Brexit choices, the voters seem to have chosen the former.

Analysts say that a fatigue over Brexit had set in and most voters wanted to “just get over with it”. In such a scenario, Labour’s campaign to further hold another referendum and continue the Brexit debate didn’t go down well with the voters.

End of centrism and the future direction of the Conservative Party

If the Labour Party is the biggest loser in this election, the second one has been the centrist political establishment. Speaking on the BBC, Neil remarked that the center-Left and center-Right have controlled the UK’s politics for decades.

Former prime ministers such as John Major, Tony Blair and David Cameron have helped hold the centrist consensus, and they are all now gone, said Neil.

Now the Tories under Johnson have moved British politics decisively to the Right, argue British political analysts.

Traditionally, the Labour Party has been seen as upper-middle class, urban party. But the victory of the Tories in many former Labour seats raises a new possibility, a change in orientation of the Conservative Party itself. Most of these seats are from the British north and Midlands, and comprise of the country’s working-classes.

This morning around 4:30 (UK time), Johnson appeared with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds and their dog, to deliver a short speech after winning his seat at Uxbridge. Uncharacteristically, Johnson talked about the idea of “one nation”.

Now, it remains to be seen how the newly inducted — traditionally Labor-voting working classes — change the Conservative Party.


Also read: Boris Johnson should know destroying parliaments has led to war


Corbyn and Labor’s existential crisis

The biggest loser in this election has been Corbyn’s Labour Party. It is not only that its symbolic red wall has been breached by the Conservatives, the party has lost some seats which it hasn’t in the past seven decades.

For instance, Blair’s former constituency, Sedgefield, which had been held by the Labour Party since 1935, has now gone to Tory candidate Paul Howell.

Critics, such as former Labour Party home secretary Alan Johnson, argue that Corbyn’s drive to take up a pro-remain (in the EU) stand and move his party towards hard-Left is responsible for the scale of this loss.

“Go back to your student politics … I feel really angry that we persevered with Corbyn,” said the Labour Party leader.

With a slew of proposals ranging from free education to nationalisation of key British industries, Corbyn has moved his party away from Blair’s long-held centrist consensus.

“Corbyn project is not a project that will win us elections,” said a Labour Party candidate after losing his election.

Another Labour Party leader Mary Creagh, who lost her seat in this election, tried to analyse the reasons for her party’s loss and the way forward. “The scale of our losses shows that we need to change our party. I also think that there is growing gap between city and towns, and Labour is increasingly becoming a party of the cities,” observed Creagh.

Will Labour now tack back towards the centre ground — by selecting a more moderate “soft Left” leader — or continue its pursuit of a quasi-Marxist utopia,” asks a report in the Financial Times.

What happens to Brexit and Scotland?

For all of 2019, under both May and Johnson, the Conservative Party did not have the majority to pass the Brexit withdrawal bill. Most analysts argue that now Johnson has the majority required to get the bill passed and finally facilitate the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

But the withdrawal bill is just the beginning, now UK would need to quickly negotiate a trade deal with the EU — its largest trading partner — and fix a dwindling economy.

Another outcome of this election has been the landslide victory of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) in Scotland. Under its leader Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP would aim to push for another Scottish-referendum, creating a massive political headache for London.

“For all his success, Mr Johnson must know his government will be defined by forces beyond his control, the EU trade negotiations and the campaign for Scottish independence,” writes Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times.


Also read: The long Brexit weekend – delays, extensions and the two letters


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Takeaway for our student netas lile KANHAIYA…..your “quasi Marxist utopia” is going to get you nowhere. Yechury and co, lesson for you all too.

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