UK Election Spotlight Follow-up: Solid Conservative Victory Gives Johnson a Mandate for Brexit

With the votes cast in the third election in the United Kingdom in five years, voters have given the Conservative Party an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons. Since this election largely became a proxy battle for the future of Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has taken this victory as a mandate to pursue with full speed a withdrawal agreement with the European Union.

Conservatives Make Gains through Labour’s “Red Wall”

Success for Johnson and the Conservatives came mainly through flipping seats in traditionally held Labour constituencies known as the “Red Wall,” some of which have been held for decades. Of note, while Labour lost 10.4% of support in districts which voted strongly to Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum, it also lost 6.4% in Remain districts. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn acknowledged the disappointing performance and indicated he would resign in the coming weeks. The success of the Tories underlines a general dissatisfaction with Labour and a well-received Conservative message to working class constituencies.

SNP Adds to Scottish Dominance

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) gained 8.1% of the vote from the previous election for a net of 13 additional seats, halving the number of Conservative seats and virtually eliminating all Labour seats from the region. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon views this as a “clear message” for the Scottish independence movement, and seeks a second referendum on the subject, a move opposed by the ruling Conservatives.

Moderate Parties Begin to Reshape Northern Ireland Politics

In Northern Ireland, results show a defeat for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), losing two seats. Since the Conservatives have a comfortable majority after this election, DUP no longer has the sway over the Brexit negotiations it previously had under Prime Minister Theresa May. The success of more moderate parties, such as the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Alliance, also indicates a dissatisfaction with sectarian politics between DUP and Sinn Féin (SF), and may bring both parties to the negotiating table to restore the regional Assembly for Northern Ireland.

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