United Kingdom: Johnson’s big Brexit victory
“The worst of men” has been elected prime minister, said Polly Toynbee in The Guardian (U.K.). Blowhard Boris Johnson led his Conservative Party to a resounding victory in last week’s national vote, which means his divorce deal to take Britain out of the European Union will almost certainly take effect on Jan. 31. Johnson is a congenital liar, “unfit in every way for any kind of office.” Yet thanks to his promise that he would “get Brexit done” after three years of deadlock, his Conservatives went from being a minority government to one with a clear majority in the House of Commons, taking 365 of the 650 seats. The Left-wing Labour Party—which couldn’t decide whether it was pro- or anti-Brexit—collapsed to 203 seats, a loss of 59 seats and its worst showing since 1935. It is a measure of how hated Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is that a “sociopathic, narcissistic glutton for power” like Johnson was seen as the lesser of two evils.
Labour “wasn’t merely defeated. It was crushed. Obliterated. Defenestrated,” said James Bickerton in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). And it was done in by “precisely the same people it arrogantly proclaimed to speak for.” The working class plumped for the Conservatives over Labour by a stunning 13 percentage points. They disliked Corbyn personally, for his history of palling around with Irish and Palestinian terrorists. And they disdained his Marxist platform, which promised to soak the rich and nationalize railways, utilities, and internet services.
The prime minister’s “exuberant personality” won this election, said The Sunday Times (U.K.) in an editorial. Boris inspired voters because he “exuded optimism on Brexit,” in contrast to his predecessor, the dour Theresa May, who acted as if she were just trying “to make the best of a bad job.” He also dumped the Conservatives’ austerity agenda, promising to hire 20,000 more police officers and “to boost the NHS with 50,000 more nurses.”
Despite Johnson’s pledges, Brexit won’t be done anytime soon, said Le Monde (France). The prime minister still needs to secure a trade agreement with the bloc. Johnson has floated a vision of the U.K. as a new Singapore, a global investment hub with low corporate taxes and few regulations. Yet if he abandons EU rules on labor and the environment, Brussels will slap punishing tariffs on British exports, crippling the U.K.’s economy. Boris will “have to choose between the Continent and the offshore” life. Can he do that and keep a deeply fractured Britain together? asked John Rentoul in Independent.co.uk. Scotland, which wants to stay in the EU, voted overwhelmingly for the Scottish Nationalist Party and could soon demand a new independence referendum. And Northern Ireland is being pushed closer to the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, by Johnson’s divorce deal, which will create a de facto trade border between the province and the rest of Britain. Johnson “may be prime minister for a long time, but he also may be the last prime minister of the U.K.” ■