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RIGHT NOW at NRN w/Jack Hadfield: Boris Johnson Has Changed British Politics Forever
On Thursday night, I, like countless Brits across the country, was glued to the television screen. After weeks of campaigning, it all came down to this. The exit poll, a survey taken of thousands of voters on how they marked their ballots, was about to be released. I was staying with some like-minded friends from my old university, sat with drinks in our hands, ready to either celebrate or drown our sorrows, based on what we were about to see. At 10 o’clock, Big Ben chimed, and the poll was released. The Conservatives, led by Boris Johnson, had apparently secured a huge majority of 86 seats. The room erupted with cheers – if the poll was correct, it would be beyond our wildest expectations. Throughout the rest of the night, the results showed that it was, albeit slightly overestimating the actual majority of 80. Johnson had done it, and British politics was changed forever.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row column_type=”block” font_color=”light” background_type=”video” video_bg_url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYgTOnZvfnc” video_bg_start_time=”139″ video_bg_end_time=”900″ video_bg_parallax=”true” add_overlay=”yes” overlay_opacity=”20″ bt_text=”BREXIT” bt_font_weight=”300″ bt_font_style=”italic” shift_y=”0″ z_index=”0″ add_bigtext=”true” min_height=”100″ bt_max_width=”300″][vc_column][wvc_video_opener caption_position=”bottom” video_url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYgTOnZvfnc” caption=”Brexit Spotlight | Interview with JACK HADFIELD”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Boris Johnson called the election in late October, after he won the leadership of the Conservative Party in July, taking over the mantel of Prime Minister (PM) from Theresa May. May had succeeded the previous PM, David Cameron, when he resigned after losing the Brexit referendum in June of 2016. May had herself voted and campaigned for Remain (as opposed to Brexit’s Leave movement), so was a strange choice to take Britain out of the European Union. Parliament had refused to pass her withdrawal deal multiple times, as the Conservatives did not have an overall majority. It was lost by May in the disastrous 2017 election, and led to two years of dither and delay on Brexit.
PM Boris Johnson Kept His Campaign Promises
When Johnson took the leadership, he promised to re-negotiate the deal that May had done with the EU, and remove the so-called Northern Irish “backstop” that would keep them in the EU Customs Union, something that was considered an impossible task. However, he managed to pull it off, and Parliament even passed the deal, but the Remainer politicians wanted to tack on amendments that would make it absolutely intolerable to any Brexit voter, and make it worse than the deal May had secured. The only way out of the gridlock was an election.
Johnson faced off against the hard-left leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn had run against May in the previous election, and even though he didn’t manage to beat her, he was partly responsible for the loss of the majority. May tried to make the election about Brexit, but Corbyn made it about anything other than that, turning the attention of the voters to the National Health Service, police numbers, infrastructure, and welfare. Unfortunately for him, his strategy didn’t work this time around. The British people accepted that 2019, unlike 2017, was a Brexit election. They had grown tired of the lack of progress on implementing the biggest democratic result in British history, and of Corbyn’s radical socialist agenda that seemed so fresh two years previous.
The Prime Minister did what May couldn’t, and rallied working-class voters who had voted for Brexit around his agenda and the Conservatives. Constituencies that had never voted for the Tories in their existence, such as Blyth Valley in Northumberland, and some that had been in the hands of Labour for nearly one hundred years, like Don Valley, Bassetlaw, or Leigh, all fell to the Conservatives. What was known as the “red wall,” a number of northern Labour constituencies that stretched from coast to coast, was smashed by Johnson.
The Brexit Party Worked with the Conservative Party
The Conservatives were aided by the Brexit Party, the spiritual successor to the UK Independence Party (UKIP) that Nigel Farage, the previous leader of UKIP, had set up just this year. They stormed to success in the European Parliamentary elections in May, pushing the Conservatives, who at that point were still led by May, down to 5th place, even behind the Greens! It was an astonishing result, and certainly sped up her departure. The Brexit Party were seen as being able to take seats that would never go Conservative, and were thought at the time to likely hold the balance of power in any future election. However, when Johnson took over, their poll numbers tanked, as having a leader of the Conservatives who actually believed in Brexit took the power out of their pitch. The risk now was that the Brexit Party would split the vote, and allow a Remain-supporting Labour government, potentially propped up by the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats, into power. They would destroy the very thing that Farage had worked for decades to implement.
Just before the deadline to put up candidates, Farage announced that they would not stand candidates in the 317 seats that the Conservatives had won in the previous election, seriously reducing the risk of the spoiler effect. When the results came in, there was some evidence of that – in a few seats that Labour held, such as in the West Midlands city of Coventry, if you added the results of the Brexit vote onto that of the Conservatives, the Conservatives would have won. However, this paled in comparison to the number of seats where the Brexit Party took a significant chunk out of the Labour vote, allowing the Conservatives to come up from the middle. Yet in some other seats that the Conservatives won, the Brexit Party vote was insignificant. It’s hard to say whether if tribally-Labour Leave voters had faced a pure Conservative/Labour choice, if more of them would have held their noses and voted for Johnson to get Brexit done or not.
This Election was the Worst Result for the Labour Party Since 1935
All in all, this was a triumph for the Conservatives. This election was the worst result for Labour since 1935, and the Conservatives picked up the highest vote share of any Party since 1979. The campaign for a second referendum on Europe is finished – with a majority of 80, nothing can stop Brexit from happening, save some freak decision in the British courts. The Conservatives are now also the Party of the working class, who Labour had abandoned to instead court the vote of university-educated, middle-class Remain voters. It is unlikely that Labour will be able to square the circle and repair its coalition of voters that it had held together for so long.
The Conservative agenda now will look nothing like the one that Margaret Thatcher implemented after her historic wins in the 1980s. In order to keep their new voter base happy, Johnson will most likely embark on a radical plan of infrastructure and investment into the north and midlands, to rejuvenate their economies and bring them back from the brink that neoliberalism led them in to. Whilst this may be seen as a tack left, they will also tack right on social issues, introducing new powers to police to crack down on the scourge of violent crime across the nation’s cities, and create a new Australian-style points-based immigration system, drastically reducing the number of people who will come into the country. This radical populist agenda will unite the country under a new strand of One Nation Conservatism, and will leave the metropolitan liberal elite wondering how the hell they could have let this happen. Unless Johnson majorly screws up during the next five years, I envision another easy win for him and his Party in the next election. We are embarking on a bright new future, where the divisions that have plagued this country for so long start to heal. Britain truly will be made great again.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]