Opinion DC Comment 14 Dec 2019 After Jan 31, Boris ...

After Jan 31, Boris Johnson challenges will grow

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Dec 14, 2019, 12:18 am IST
Updated Dec 14, 2019, 12:18 am IST
Love him or hate him, Boris Johnson can hardly be ignored any more.
Boris Johnson.
 Boris Johnson.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservatives have recorded the largest victory since the days of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, while the Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn, suffered its worst drubbing in more than 80 years since the 1930s. The redrawing of lines in British politics had to come in such a verdict, but the first thing the result guarantees is that Brexit will happen as the PM declared: “We broke the gridlock, we ended the deadlock, we smashed the roadblock.”

Love him or hate him, Boris Johnson can hardly be ignored any more. He has gained immense authority with such a parliamentary majority, more so as his party won seats in traditional Labour strongholds in the industrial north and in the Midlands. A period of serial defeats in Parliament and in the courts for the “Temporary PM” is over, as clarity emerges from the great uncertainties since the Brexit referendum of three years ago.

 

Mr Johnson’s poll message was simple: “Get Brexit done” — and it should happen by January 31, 2020. Such a campaign seemed to resonate with the public bewildered by delays. His critics even slammed him as an “incompetent charlatan” and two former Tory PMs asked voters to stop him as well as Mr Corbyn in an election thought to offer little choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The Tories’ victory under Mr Johnson must be seen against the backdrop of a global trend seen to favour right-wing leaders, invariably led by “strongmen” in the Donald Trump mould, who have used bombast and bluster while lending little credence to facts and detail in portraying themselves as compelling leaders who have the people’s ear. Boris Johnson may soon have to deal with separatist tendencies in Scotland and Northern Ireland, who will be dragged out of the EU against their will.

Brexit may have been the tipping point but there is also an underlying xenophobia to be seen in the vote for a party ready to pull out of decades of mutually beneficial association with the European Union on the fear of invasion of migrants. Brexit may happen soon enough under Mr Johnson, but a trade deal with the EU may prove far more elusive and Britain may need to call for Mr Trump to deliver on his trade promises, while also dealing with China.

The Tories’ return should change little for India ties. Prominent legislators of Indian origin, including Mr Johnson’s top aide Priti Patel, have all been returned to Parliament after Mr Johnson had actively wooed people of Indian origin in an increasingly multi-cultural and diverse society. There was good news on the distaff side too as 221 will be women MPs in the new House of Commons. Mr Johnson’s gambit of calling for this early election has paid rich dividends but torrid times may lie ahead for the UK.

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