The populist, right-wing wave that has swept the Western world in recent years showed no signs of slowing yesterday as the U.K.’s Conservative Party won a dominant majority of seats in the British Parliament.
Elections in the U.K. are very different from U.S. elections. British elections can be called at essentially any time. The prime minister is himself a member of parliament. Parties elect leaders, and whichever party wins a governing majority sees its leader installed as prime minister. A vote for the local MP (member of parliament) is as much a local vote as a national vote for the prime minister.
Conservatives gained 66 seats for a 365-seat majority out of 650, strengthening the majority for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Labour Party, the pre-eminent leftist party led by socialist Jeremy Corbyn, lost 42 seats to drop to 203 total. The small Scottish National Party, which supports independence for Scotland, jumped from 35 seats to 48 seats. There were parallels to the 2016 election in the U.S., as Conservatives broke a “red wall” — red represents Labour — to take seats traditionally dominated by Labour MPs with the support of working-class voters.
Johnson declared the result was a clear mandate to finally complete the Brexit process, which was passed by voters in 2016 but has been bogged down by failed negotiations and stonewalling by opponents of the plan to leave the European Union. Corbyn announced that he would resign as Labour leader before the next election.
The applications of the British elections to U.S. politics are limited. The Conservative Party in the U.K. would be a center-left party in the U.S., more akin to the Democratic Party of the 1990s and 2000s than today’s GOP. But the result shows that voters around the Western world are continuing to turn against hard-left politics. For his part, President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson and said he looked forward to striking a trade deal with a newly independent Britain if Johnson can get Brexit done.
Photo credit: Arno Mikkor (EU2017EE) via Flickr, CC BY 2.0