Conservatives Celebrate Historic ‘Working-Class’ Mandate As Corbyn Quits
Before we get into the results, let’s take a second to listen to a song that just might become the new Conservative Party anthem (for the next five years, or until the next general election):
Boris Johnson has done it. He has overcome all the jeers in the press about his appearance and reputation for Machiavellian maneuvering. All those clips flooding social media showing voters telling off the prime minister for plotting to destroy Europe has been exposed for just that: More Remainer propaganda – not a glimpse into the true will of the people.
Johnson’s strategic decision to make the election all about Brexit – we’re returning to the polls to ‘Get Brexit Done’, he said – though controversial among his party members, will forever be remembered as the absolute correct decision. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was perhaps savvy enough to side-step the trap of fully supporting remain, but the Lib Dems paid a heavy price for running a campaign centered upon revoking Brexit.
It turns out, all those stories about a second referendum reversing the British people’s initial decision were just that: stories – made-up tales circulated in the press by bitter political partisans.
As Johnson proved last night, support for Brexit under the terms he negotiated with the EU, remains high across the UK, particularly in the Labour heartland, where Johnson smashed through the opposition’s ‘Wall of Red’ and won a massive majority. With one seat left to be decided, the Tories had a majority of 79 votes (when one factors in the speaker, deputy speaker and members of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein, who don’t take their seats in Westminster), with the Conservatives taking 364 seats, Labour 203 seats, SNP 48 seats and the Lib Dems 11 seats.
As last night’s exit polls suggested, Johnson has taken home the biggest conservative majority since Thatcher (as Johnson noted in his victory speech, that was before many of the party’s current voters were born).
As a strategist from Rabobank put it in a note to clients: “The great Brexit gamble paid off. Prime Minister Johnson got his majority in the House of Commons. The final result is still due, but it is certain that his majority is comfortable enough to get his Brexit-deal through the Commons. The UK will leave the EU by January 31.”
Across the aisle, Johnson’s political opponents suffered crushing defeats. The big loser of the night was Lib Dem Leader Jo Swinson, who couldn’t even hold on to her own seat, and was voted out by her Scottish constituency in favor of the SNP (another big winner from last night). Swinson’s decision to back Johnson in supporting the Christmastime vote, coupled with her decision to campaign heavily on a pro-remain, pro-second referendum message, will be remembered as some of the biggest political blunders of the new millennium. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party also fared poorly. Hopes that Corbyn’s ultra-left-wing platform would resonate with under-counted young voters and deliver a surprise pro-Labour upset have been decidedly dashed. Instead, the party turned in its worst performance in decades, barely managing to stay above the 200-seat threshold.
As the FT showed, the Tories won a true mandate from all of Britain, including the working class voters coveted by Labour.
As expected, Corbyn has promised to step down as Labour leader, though the BBC reported that with the party in extreme disarray (Laura Pidcock, a young up-and-coming Labour MP who was seen as a potential Corbyn ally and possible successor, didn’t even win back her seat) Corbyn will likely hang on until the Spring, when a party leadership contest can be held.
And rightfully so. Because, as the results showed, Corbyn’s critics turned out to be correct: He’s simply too radical for the British people, and his reputation as an anti-semite also undoubtedly hurt.
While some have argued that last night’s election was a one-issue vote (are you pro-Brexit or pro-Remain?), exit polls show a distaste for Corbyn was also clearly a factor.
In his victory speech, an energetic Johnson noted that “we broke the deadlock, we’ve ended the gridlock, we’ve smashed the roadblock – we did it!”. He went on to thank voters, especially the longtime Labour voters who cast their ballots for the Conservatives for the first time in their life.
“Now we say, to our stentorian friend in the blue, twelve-star hat: it’s time to put a sock in the megaphone.”
Meanwhile, the tone as Corbyn announced his plans to step aside was, unsurprisingly, rather morose:
And thus ends the political career of one of the Western World’s most distinguished leftists…announcing his resignation while being subtly undermined by some guy in a french-horn hat.
Though, throughout the night, Johnson also fell victim to some humorous photobombers.
(If you’re looking for an explanation, MarketWatch has got you covered)
The other big winner of the night was Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party. With her at the helm, the party won 48 out of 59 seats in Scotland, setting the stage for a constitutional battle with Johnson, who has so far refused to willingly allow another independence referendum.
Johnson has promised to pass his Brexit deal before Christmas, setting the stage for Britain leaving the EU on Jan. 31. Only then, will the real slog of hashing out a new trade deal with the EU27 before the end of next year (which is the next big Brexit deadline). Johnson has promised that he would not extend the deadline beyond the end of next year, but if the past three years have taught us anything, it’s that the first deadline is typically a “soft” deadline.
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