Brexit 5: General Election Result Special

By Laura Contin December 13, 2019 3:40 pm

A landslide victory for the Conservatives

The Conservative Party won a landslide victory in Thursday’s General Election. With a majority of 80 in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson secured the best result since Margaret Thatcher in 1987. In a speech on Friday morning, the Prime Minister stated the result proved that his party “has been given a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done and to focus on the priorities of the British people, and above all on the NHS.” He reiterated central election promises, including recruiting 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more GPs and building 40 new hospitals.

Labour and Lib Dems on their knees

The Labour Party suffered its worst result since 1935, with many of the Conservative Party’s gains were in former Labour strongholds in the Midlands and North of England and Wales. Jeremy Corbyn announced he would not see the Party into the next General Election but would continue as leader for a “period of reflection.” Corbyn blamed Brexit for Labour’s devastating defeat.

Alongside Labour’s, the big losers of the evening were the Liberal Democrats, who despite a fierce campaign carried out on the doorsteps across the country, completely missed the target, culminated with the leader Jo Swinson losing her East Dunbartonshire seat to the SNP’s Amy Callaghan by 149 votes. She resigned as leader shortly after. Ed Davey MP and Sal Brinton will take over as joint acting leaders of the Lib Dems, with a leadership election planned for the new year.

SNP sweeps the elections in Scotland but what about the of the United Kingdom?

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party won 48 seats, jumping from 35 seats won in the 2017 General Election. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon stated that the surge in support gave the Party a fresh mandate for holding a second referendum on Scottish independence. The future of the Union has also been called into question. A resurgent SNP has promised to demand a second independence referendum for Scotland. Since Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill is now certain to pass, a new “Irish Sea border” is likely to be in operation in just over a year’s time.  The possibility of a reunited Ireland has also been discussed, as Northern Ireland have elected more Irish nationalists to Westminster than Unionists for the first time since partition.

What next?

The Prime Minister will conduct his cabinet reshuffle on Monday 16th December. A new Parliament will be summoned to meet on Tuesday where MPs will begin the process of swearing in. The Queen’s Speech is scheduled to be delivered two days later, during the State Opening of Parliament and the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be brought before the House of Commons on Friday. With a significant majority now assured for the Conservative Party, the Bill is certain to pass. Britain will leave the European Union on 31st January as planned and begin negotiating a free trade agreement. European diplomats have welcomed the clarity the decisive election victory gave to Britain’s stalled withdrawal from the EU but admitted that finalising a free trade deal by the end of 2020 would be challenging.

The Conservative Party will proceed with its domestic agenda. Priorities include the NHS, education, law and order and a points-based immigration system. Other key points throughout the campaign included a £34 billion cash injection for the NHS, an increase in the National Insurance payment threshold to £9,500, £4 billion to be spent on flood defences, 10 new freeports around the UK, ending the automatic release of serious violent and sexual offenders, and scrapping the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. The Prime Minister has promised to put his spending plans before Parliament within his first 100 days in office.

The reaction from Brussels

EU leaders, reunited for the two-day European Council summit, welcomed the majority gained by Boris Johnson, but expressed cautious confidence that the new Prime Minister will pivot to back a close economic relationship with the bloc and called for swift ratification of the withdrawal agreement after the prime minister’s election triumph. The EU bloc would like the new UK government to sign up to EU environment, tax, work and social standards as it seeks “to establish as close as possible a future relationship with the UK”. In addition, the current debate revolves around the key question on what could be possibly negotiated between 31st January, the day the UK is expected to leave the EU, and the end of the transition period 11 months later.

The ball keeps rolling.

The Whitehouse team are experts in the potential impact of Brexit, providing political consultancy and public affairs advice to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union. More information about our Brexit experience can be found here, or, if you have any questions, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at chris.whitehouse@whitehouseconsulting.co.uk.

By Laura Contin December 13, 2019 3:40 pm

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