Everyone in the land of my birth is relieved that the general election is over and that there is a clear way forward on Brexit. While not everyone was thrilled with the outcome, which is true in any election, the result means clarity. After a long period of political indecision and uncertainty, the United Kingdom’s electorate gave Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his British Conservative Party a huge majority, and therefore a firm mandate to proceed with Brexit.
As a quick reminder, the British voted to leave Europe in June 2016 and the last three and a half years have been a political roller coaster with two delays to Brexit and two general elections. The Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party since July, Boris Johnson, had the same problem as his predecessor in that he could not get sufficient support in parliament to accept his deal with the European Union. Parliament was full of Members of Parliament (MPs) who did not agree with Brexit, and were derailing the process at every chance they got. He took a gamble and called a general election to get clarity and a mandate from the British people, hoping to achieve a large majority in Parliament so he could proceed with Brexit, ideally by the latest new deadline of January 31, 2020.
Wow, did his gamble pay off! The Conservative party (also known as the Tories), won an overwhelming majority with the biggest “landslide” in favor of the Tories since the days of Margaret Thatcher in 1983. There are 650 MPs seats in the British House of Commons. The political party who wins over half (326 seats or more) achieves a majority so that the party leader can “ask the Queen to form a new government” (a ceremonial nicety in the 21st century). Boris Johnson led his party to success, winning 47 new seats resulting in 365 of the 650 available seats in parliament – a strong majority to push through Conservative legislation including Brexit. The Tories won many seats from the Labour party (spelled with a u in the UK), mainly in England. Up in Scotland, Labour also lost out big time to the Scottish National Party (SNP) who now have 48 seats in the British parliament. The SNP is a Scottish nationalist, social-democratic political party which supports and campaigns for Scottish independence which, surprisingly, the Scottish people rejected in a referendum in 2014!
So why did the Tories win in such a spectacular fashion? Labour lost 59 MPs and now only holds 203 seats in parliament. Most of the lost seats came from the north of England which has been considered a traditional “working class” region which has supported Labour for generations. The Labour party last won a general election under Tony Blair in 2005 but since then has lost four election defeats in a row – but none as dramatically as last week.
The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, quickly announced his plans to resign as leader after the worst defeat for his party in 84 years. Corbyn’s brand of left-wing politics is pretty extreme socialism and his party planned for higher taxation and the desire to nationalize many private companies if they won the election. Labour has been a “center-left” party for decades, but the leadership under Corbyn had gone far too far to the left for many voters’ comfort. Also, and in what is believed to have caused many traditional Labour voters to change their vote to the Tories, is that the Brexit uncertainty of the last few years would have continued. Labour really had no clear plan on Brexit, and it is likely that a second referendum would have taken place and Brexit would have been delayed further or even potentially cancelled. While the Brexit vote itself was very close – 52% to 48% – many people on both sides were angry that the government had asked the electorate if they wanted to leave the EU, the people said “yes”, but parliament was seen to delay or even dismiss the will of the people. Only the Conservatives promised to 100% abide by the result of the referendum, which created enough cross-over votes to bring on a landslide.
This is such a dramatic result that Boris Johnson particularly thanked voters in the north of England for “breaking the voting habits of generations” to back the Conservatives. They had “changed the political landscape” and “changed the Conservative Party for the better”, he said. “Everything that we do, everything that I do as your prime minister, will be devoted to repaying that trust,” Mr. Johnson added. “We are the servants now and our job is to serve the people of this country and deliver on our priorities. And our priorities and their priorities are the same.” There is much more information at www.bbc.co.uk
I say goodbye this week with a quote from the great Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister who led the United Kingdom during the dark days of the second World War. “Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world…. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried…..”
God Bless America and the United Kingdom! Merry Christmas everyone!
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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her PR agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com