The British people told the politicians in 2016 that they wanted Brexit. The politicians either didn’t listen, didn’t believe them or didn’t care. The only prominent politician who seemed to want to give the public what it asked for was Boris Johnson, but he needed the public to do one more thing.
If they really wanted Brexit, they needed to say so again – loud and clear – in a new parliamentary election that would leave no doubt about the matter and give him a clear conservative majority that would make it possible for him to get a final divorce deal done with the EU, and make Brexit finally complete.
Advertisement - story continues below
Yesterday, the British people confirmed it as overwhelmingly as they possibly could: Yes, we still want Brexit!
And they delivered the message by giving Johnson and his Conservative Party its biggest parliamentary majority in 32 years, and handing the left-wing Labour Party its worst election showing since 1987. According to exit poll forecasts, the Conservatives will have 368 seats, compared with just 191 for Labour. There are minor parties that also win seats in Britain, but even with those parties factored in, the Conservatives look to have an absolute majority of 86 seats. In other words, the Conservatives will have 86 more seats than all the other parties combined.
This was a complete wipeout. Johnson will be able to govern with the biggest parliamentary majority of any prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, and he intends to get the Brexit deal done as early as next week:
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government will move quickly to “get Brexit done” before Christmas by introducing legislation in Parliament, if it is returned to power.
British politics tends to be a lot more turbulent than what we’re used to here, at least in the sense that we always know when elections will be, and we don’t just call new national elections outside the regularly scheduled ones. In Britain, new elections can be called for a variety of reasons – either because of a no-confidence vote or because a prime minister believes, as Johnson did in the case of Brexit, that he can no longer govern with the Parliament he has.
Advertisement - story continues below
I say that as setup because, barring the calling of special elections, this massive Conservative majority could conceivebly govern Britain for the next five years. That would give Johnson an opportunity to pursue an ambitious legislative agenda that has the potential to make him one of the most consequential prime ministers in Britain’s history.
No one knows exactly how he will choose to use his opportunity, of course. Johnson does believe in lower taxes and less regulation, but he also believes in banning fracking, and it remains to be seen if even a large Conservative majority is willing to mess with the National Health Service.
Will Boris Johnson become one of Britain's greatest prime ministers?
I would expect the UK to get a trade deal done with the United States at some point in 2020, and the deal will be much less difficult to achive than either the UK’s trade deal with the EU or the U.S. trade deal with China. There’s plenty of incentive for Johnson and Donald Trump to work out something amicable, which is the way it should be between two close, long-time allies.
The political class in Britain will likely remain sore at the electorate for awhile, for forcing them to accept Brexit and rewarding an unconventional politician like Boris Johnson instead of them. Too bad. The public made it clear what they wanted, and the political class failed to deliver it. Now Johnson has a chance become a prime minister of historic significance.
Nice job, UK voters. But the hard work is really just starting.