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Johnson set for huge win in UK's 'Brexit election'

Last updated on: December 13, 2019 09:38 IST

Boris Johnson is set to be re-elected as British prime minister with a landslide majority in the country's general elections, an exit poll suggested on Friday, a victory that will end the uncertainty over Brexit and will help him to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union by the end of next month.

Johnson's Conservative Party took a string of former Labour strongholds, according to the BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll

Labour have lost seats in the north of England and Wales in areas that voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.

The results of the exit poll suggest a Tory majority of 86 as being broadly accurate, although most seats have yet to declare.

Opposition Labour Party are on course to lose 71 seats, the exit poll suggests.

It would be the biggest Conservative victory since 1987, the poll suggests.

Reacting to the exit polls, Johnson thanked the Conservative Party's voters, candidates and volunteers.

"We live in the greatest democracy in the world," he tweeted.

 

The first sign of what the results held in store came with a definitive exit poll released at the close of voting at 2200 GMT on Thursday.

The forecast not only pegged the Tories way past the 326-mark required for the all-important majority in the 650-member House of Commons, but also meant Johnson's so-called divorce agreement struck with the European Union to take the UK out of the 28-member economic bloc set to be turbo-charged to go full speed ahead.

“This has been a hard-fought election in a very cold time of the year because we needed a functioning Conservative majority,” said Priti Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin minister in Johnson's last Cabinet, in response to the exit poll.

“We are committed to deliver on priorities and getting Brexit done is a priority. The deal is there, we want to move forward,” she said.

The Opposition Labour Party, which looked set for one of its worst performances since 1935 as the so-called “red wall” of the party's heartlands towards the north of England looked set for significant knockdowns, conceded that voters seemed to have voted strongly on the basis of Brexit.

“Brexit has dominated this election. If the results are anywhere near the exit polls, this is an extremely disappointing result,” admitted Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

The first couple of results were some relief for the Labour Party as its candidates clinched the traditionally held Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Central and Houghton and Sunderland South seats, albeit with reduced majority.

But then came the first big upset of the night as the Blyth Valley constituency echoed the exit poll results and handed over a significant gain to the Conservatives, which grabbed the so-called Labour heartland seat which had been with the party since the 1950s.

Polling stations across all constituencies of the United Kingdom -- England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland -- where a total of 3,322 candidates were standing began the count right after the polls closed, with the final tally expected to begin taking shape in the early hours of Friday.

The snap election had been called by Johnson in a bid to win a majority for his Conservative Party and break the Commons deadlock over Brexit.

It resulted in the UK's first December General Election in nearly a century and saw voters brave a cold and blustery winter's day to queue outside polling stations to cast their vote in what had been pegged as the most important election “in a generation”.

This also marked the UK's third General Election in less than five years and the second since the UK voted to leave the EU in the June 2016 referendum.

Johnson, who had taken over from Theresa May earlier this year with a pledge to meet the October 31 Brexit deadline, was constantly frustrated with a lack of majority in the Commons.

During the course of the campaign, he focused relentlessly on the "Get Brexit Done" message, promising to take the UK out of the EU by the new 31 January 2020 deadline if he was handed the mandate from the electorate.

In contrast, his main rival for No 10 Downing Street, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, had promised voters another referendum with a choice between a renegotiated Brexit deal and remaining in the economic bloc.

But the party primarily campaigned on a promise to end Tory budget cuts by increasing spending on public services and the state-funded National Health Service, a strategy which it would seem failed to make a dent in the polls.

If the early trends pan out, Labour is set for a crushing defeat which is almost entirely likely to be blamed on Corbyn's leadership and his failure to take a clear stance on Brexit as well as counter growing allegations of antisemitism within the party ranks.

A perceived anti-India stance since the party passed an emergency motion calling for international intervention in Kashmir is also likely to have swayed some of its traditional connect with Indian diaspora voters.

The Liberal Democrats promised to cancel Brexit with leader Jo Swinson trying to rally the Remain voters by even doing a deal with the Green Party and Plaid Cymru to stand aside in certain seats to maximise the anti-Brexit vote.

However, the forecast for the party looks to have not made much of a gain over its position in the last Parliament.

The Scottish National Party had campaigned on the message that a strong vote for them would effectively be a mandate for a second independence referendum in Scotland and the party looked set to make some important gains in the election.

Aditi Khanna
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