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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves as he arrives at Downing Street after meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace to ask for permission to form a government on Dec. 13, 2019.

TOBY MELVILLE/Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared a “new dawn” in Britain as his Conservatives swept to power in a victory that has given Mr. Johnson an overwhelming mandate to take the country out of the European Union next month.

“A new dawn rises on a new day and on a new government,” Mr. Johnson told party supporters early Friday morning. “Getting Brexit done is now the irresistible, inarguable decision of the British people…And we will get Brexit done on time, by the 31st of January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

With all of the results counted the Conservatives have won 365 seats, giving them a majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons. That’s the party’s best showing since 1987 and it clears the way for Mr. Johnson to pursue his Brexit deal with the European Union, which calls for the country to formally leave the bloc on Jan. 31. Labour has suffered its worst showing since 1935, losing 59 seats and falling to 203.

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In a televised address outside No. 10 on Friday, Mr. Johnson promised to run a "people's government" and called for an end to the deep divisions over Brexit.

“I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin,” he said. In a pitch to those who didn’t support the Conservatives and who still want Britain to remain in the EU, he added: “We in this one-nation Conservative government will never ignore your good and positive feelings of warmth and sympathy to the other nations in Europe.”

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn announced on Friday that he will not lead the party in the next election but he stopped short of saying when he will resign. “This is obviously a very disappointing night for the Labour party with the result that we’ve got,” Mr. Corbyn said after winning his seat in north London. “I will discuss with our party to ensure there is a process now of reflection on this result and on the policies the party will take going forward.” Mr. Corbyn insisted that Labour’s polices were popular, but he said the party was hampered by the country’s deep divisions over Brexit. Others have argued that Mr. Corbyn’s lack of clarity on Brexit — promising to renegotiate Mr. Johnson’s deal and then hold another referendum during which he would remain neutral — confused voters, particularly in Labour strongholds that backed Brexit

The other big winner from Thursday’s election was the Scottish National Party which won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats. Party Leader Nicola Sturgeon said the result was a clear mandate for a second referendum on Scottish independence. “There has been a strong endorsement in this election of Scotland having a choice over our future, of not having to put up with a Conservative government that we didn’t vote for and not having to accept life as a nation outside the European Union,” she said Friday.


BRITISH GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS

650 of 650 declared - Dec. 13, 16:30 GMT

326 for majority

Conservative

SNP

LABOUR

365

48

203

Other: 15

Lib Dem: 11

DUP: 8

SCOTLAND

NORTHERN

IRELAND

ENGLAND

WALES

ENGLAND

CON

345 (+48)

LABOUR

180 (-47)

LIB DEM

7 (-1)

GREEN

1 (–)

SCOTLAND

SNP

48 (+13)

CON

6 (-7)

LIB DEM

4 (–)

LABOUR

1 (-6)

WALES

LABOUR

22 (-6)

CON

14 (+6)

PLAID CYMRU

4 (–)

NORTHERN IRELAND

DUP

8 (-2)

OTHERS

10

Note: The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, from the Chorley constituency, is included as 'Other' as he does not take part in votes or follow party discipline.

SOURCES: REUTERS; BBC

BRITISH GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS

650 of 650 declared - Dec. 13, 16:30 GMT

326 for majority

Conservative

SNP

LABOUR

365

48

203

Other: 15

Lib Dem: 11

DUP: 8

SCOTLAND

NORTHERN

IRELAND

ENGLAND

WALES

ENGLAND

CON

345 (+48)

LABOUR

180 (-47)

LIB DEM

7 (-1)

GREEN

1 (–)

SCOTLAND

SNP

48 (+13)

CON

6 (-7)

LIB DEM

4 (–)

LABOUR

1 (-6)

WALES

LABOUR

22 (-6)

CON

14 (+6)

PLAID CYMRU

4 (–)

NORTHERN IRELAND

DUP

8 (-2)

OTHERS

10

Note: The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, from the Chorley constituency, is included as 'Other' as he does not take part in votes or follow party discipline.

SOURCES: REUTERS; BBC

BRITISH GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS

650 of 650 declared - Dec. 13, 16:30 GMT

326 for majority

Conservative

SNP

LABOUR

365

48

203

Other: 15

Lib Dem: 11

DUP: 8

SCOTLAND

NORTHERN

IRELAND

ENGLAND

WALES

ENGLAND

SCOTLAND

CON

345 (+48)

SNP

48 (+13)

LABOUR

180 (-47)

CON

6 (-7)

LIB DEM

7 (-1)

LIB DEM

4 (–)

GREEN

1 (–)

LABOUR

1 (-6)

WALES

NORTHERN IRELAND

LABOUR

22 (-6)

DUP

8 (-2)

CON

14 (+6)

OTHERS

10

PLAID CYMRU

4 (–)

Note: The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, from the Chorley constituency, is included as 'Other' as he does not take part in votes or follow party discipline.

SOURCES: REUTERS; BBC

Ms. Sturgeon argued throughout the campaign that while Scotland voted in 2014 to remain in the United Kingdom, by a margin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent, the situation has profoundly changed because of Brexit which the country opposed by 62 per cent in the 2016 referendum. Mr. Johnson has ruled out holding another poll on independence and the Tories made that a central part of their campaign in Scotland. However, the Conservatives lost seven of their seats and won just six.

One of the victims of the SNP surge was Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats who lost her seat in Scotland by 149 votes and resigned as leader. “Tonight’s result is obviously hugely disappointing,” she said in a statement. “This is clearly a setback for liberal values. But there are millions of people across the country who believe in them.” The Liberal Democrats struggled throughout the campaign after adopting a promise to revoke Brexit altogether and keep Britain inside the EU. Many voters, including those opposed to Brexit, said the position was too extreme and ignored the result of the 2016 referendum which saw 52 per cent of voters back leaving the EU.

Investors welcomed the election result and the value of the pound jumped to its highest level against the U.S. dollar since May, 2018. Shares on the London Stock Exchange also surged with the FTSE 250 index of U.K. shares jumping by 5 per cent at Friday’s open. “The market now has more confidence that Johnson should be able to pass a Brexit deal and for the U.K. to formally leave the EU at the end of January, 2020,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell. “Markets hate uncertainty and ultimately Brexit will become centre-stage again. Investors have been served a distraction in the form of the general election in recent weeks, but the focus will now have to shift back to the structure of any trade deal and what could happen to the U.K. at the end of the 2020 transition period.”

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Indeed the Brexit debate is far from over despite the Tory victory. The next big hurdle for Mr. Johnson will be negotiating a trade deal with the EU. During the campaign, Mr. Johnson promised to deliver a sweeping agreement that would go far beyond the Canada-EU trade deal, which is considered one of the most comprehensive in the world. But he doesn’t have much time.

The withdrawal agreement includes a transition period that runs to the end of 2020. During that time Britain will essentially remain an EU member but it won’t participate in the bloc’s institutions. Mr. Johnson has insisted that he can negotiate a trade deal before the transition expires. Few experts or EU officials believe that’s remotely possible which raises the prospect that Britain will be entirely outside the EU in 2021 without an agreement with its largest trading partner. The transition can be extended for up to two years, but both sides have to agree to an extension before July 1, 2020, and Mr. Johnson has said he won’t agree to any delay.

Aside from Brexit, Mr. Johnson also faces a daunting domestic agenda. The British economy has ground to a halt and business investment has all but stopped. The National Health Service is also woefully underfunded and Mr. Johnson faced fierce criticism during the campaign for years of budget cuts by Conservative governments. Mr. Johnson has promised big increases in spending on health care and education but he has been vague about where the money will come from.

Tony Travers, associate dean of the LSE’s school of public policy, said the big win could lead Mr. Johnson to soften his position on Brexit and seek more alignment with the EU. That’s because many of the new Tory MPs will represent ridings in Northern England which could be adversely affected if Brexit goes badly. “I just don’t see the Conservatives wanting to damage the car industry or the chemical industry in places where those new voters now live,” Prof. Travers said.

Nonetheless the win marks a stunning turnaround for the Conservatives and a personal triumph for Mr. Johnson who has confounded pundits since he took over as party leader in July from Theresa May. Only a few months ago the Conservatives were languishing at 9 per cent in the opinion polls and Ms. May seemed incapable of delivering Brexit. Mr. Johnson turned things around by uniting his fractious party and renegotiating a withdrawal agreement Ms. May had struck with the EU. When Parliament delayed ratification of the deal in October, he plunged the country into a snap election and gambled that voters would see his deal as the only way out of the Brexit impasse. The risk has paid off handsomely.

“It’s rare that you get so many seats change hands in any one election so he’s going to have a whopping great majority and it will take probably several elections to lose it,” said Simon Hix a professor of politics at the London School of Economics. “My expectation is we’ve got Boris in No. 10 for 10 years.”

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With reports from Reuters


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