LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party was on course for a resounding victory in Britain’s elections after voters endorsed his bid to achieve Brexit on January 31, the biggest diplomatic change in the world in 70 years.
For Johnson, whose 20-week tenure in power has been marked by chaotic parliamentary scenes and stark division on the street over Britain’s torturous departure from the European Union, the victory in Thursday’s contest is a reminder.
The 55-year-old is educated at the country’s most elite school and known by his bombastic style, Boris must not only deliver Brexit but also convince Britons that contentious divorce would lead to lengthy trade talks, is worth it.
A crushing Conservative victory will mark the ultimate failure of Brexit’s critics who sought to thwart a 2016 referendum vote through parliamentary legislative battle and caused some of the biggest protests in recent British history.
An exit poll showed the Conservative securing a landslide of 368 seats, more than enough for a comfortable majority in 650-seat parliament and the largest national Conservative election history since 1987 reign of Margaret Thatcher.
“I hope you enjoy a celebration tonight,” Johnson, the New-York born former mayor of London, told supporters in an email. “With any luck, tomorrow we’ll be getting to work.”
With results across the UK showing the exit poll was accurate, Johnson’s bet on a snap election has paid off, ensuring he can soon ratify the Brexit deal he made with EU so that UK can leave on January 31 – 10 months later than originally planned.
But nearly half a century after joining what has become the world’s largest trading bloc, Johnson faced the daunting challenge of striking new international trade deals, keeping London’s position as a top glob financial capital and keeping UK together.
Sterling surged, hitting a 19-month high against the dollar of as much as $1,3516, 2.5% a day, and its strongest levels against the euro since shortly after the Brexit referendum in 2016.
Labor was predicted to win 191 seats, the party’s worst result since 1935,after centuries of offering voters for a second referendum and the most radical socialist government. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labor leader, faced calls to resign.
As of 0330 GMT, Johnson’s Conservatives had made a net gain of 22 seats.