A historic election in the U.K. has given the country’s Conservative Party a powerful majority in the British Parliament, allowing controversial Prime Minister Boris Johnson to essentially reshape British politics for years to come. Though the Labour Party had hoped that the recent election would remove Johnson from the position of Prime Minister, paving the way for a second referendum to potentially prevent the country’s departure from the European Union, voters decided overwhelmingly that Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party was more fit to lead Britain.
Johnson, whose primary political message has been a promise to “get Brexit done” as quickly as possible, now faces little to no opposition as his power has just been augmented considerably. That being said, much of Britain’s future is now uncertain, as the negotiations involving the country’s departure from the European Union continue to be complicated and controversial. Experts are uncertain about the long-term ramifications of leaving the EU, though most economists project that the economic downturn already caused by the 2016 referendum, in which a slim majority of the country voted to leave the EU, will only worsen.
Now, the country will almost certainly leave the European Union early next year, a polarizing move which is sure to delight half the country and frustrate the other half. For many living in the U.K., Brexit represents a rejection of liberal ideas in favor of conservative ones, as the decision to leave the E.U. is connected with anti-immigrant sentiment as well as nationalistic pride. Indeed, yesterday’s victory indicates how thoroughly this conservative sentiment has enraptured the British electorate, as the Conservative Party’s victory is the largest the country has seen since the victory that led to the election of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1987. The election represents a tremendous victory for Boris Johnson particularly because his tenure as Prime Minister has gotten off to a rocky start, characterized by several defeats in Parliament, as he was legally blocked from pursuing a no-deal Brexit and a deal he negotiated with the European Union was voted down in Parliament.
Now, however, Boris Johnson will be in power for five years, a period of time during which he has the power to make tremendous political changes to the country, with the historically consequential Brexit being the first order of business. The value of the pound skyrocketed after news of the election spread, reflecting a belief that the chaos that has for years defined British politics will soon subside and the country’s departure from the EU will be orderly and largely uncontested in Parliament, as Johnson’s power to negotiate terms of a Brexit deal in accordance with his wishes has expanded tremendously.
That being said, Johnson still faces some opposition in Parliament. Specifically, the Scottish National Party, which gained more than a dozen seats in the election, stridently opposes Mr. Johnson’s desire to get Brexit done as quickly as possible, and the party may push for calls for a referendum on Scottish independence, which would allow Scotland to remain in the EU by breaking ties with England. Additionally, Mr. Johnson’s negotiations to leave the EU are likely to be influenced by the country’s working class, who are likely to focus on invigorating Britain’s manufacturing economy and protecting the economy from imports, a vision that contradicts the Prime Minister’s desires.
International observers have had a wide range of perspectives on the issue, with many analysts judging the country’s historic election, which will have ramifications around the world, as a sign of exhaustion and frustration with democracy in an information age that is saturated with political news of all ideologies and biases. With the vote to impeach President Trump being held today in the United States House of Representatives, one thing is for certain: the moment we are currently living in is a consequential and pivotal one in the history of global democracy, which faces unprecedented threats from multiple fronts.