… Boris Johnson by a good, solid margin, according to the very early returns and exit polls.
Prime Minister Johnson appears to have the solid majority (forecast to be 86 seats more than the combined opposition)* that he needs to make the Brexit happen. It’s not a landslide but it is, it seems to me, a very clear message to Britain and to Europe that the people of Britain (not just the South of England) have spoken, again: they want out of the European Union.
The path ahead for Britain, however, is still anything but clear. Anything less than this result would have made it easy for the anti-Britain faction in the EU, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, to poison the Brexit deal but this result is too hard for even the French to ignore. Britain is still the fifth largest economy in the world in nominal GDP according to the IMF, and while Britain and France are nearly tied, both lagging Germany in population and output, the loss of Britain will hurt the EU.
Now, Prime Minister Johnson must look ahead, and he must do so both clearly and capably, in order to, simultaneously:
- Reattach Britain to Europe on favourable (Norway like? Canada like?) terms; and
- Negotiate other, new favourable trade deals with America (that will be a real challenge, given Donald J Trump) China, India, Canada and Australia and so on.
Prime Minister Johnson remains something of an enigma. Observers wonder just what kind of leader he will be. The challenges are daunting and Mr Johnson has a somewhat disturbing resumé ~ shades of Justin Trudeau.
But, there he is: prime minister with a clear mandate to accomplish the Brexit and then lead Britain to prosperity and some sort of national unity.
I expect both Scotland (where the anti-Brexit Scottish National Party appear set to make substantial gains) and Ulster to reconsider their places within the United Kingdom. In the end, I suspect that the Brexit may lead to a (re)united Ireland. But I also think that a reunited Ireland and a more independent Scotland might, quite quickly, come to believe that a much closer economic union with Lesser Britain (England and Wales) and with each other and, perhaps with Iceland, Norway and possibly Switzerland (the old EFTA) is better than one with a diminished and divided EU.
I expect, maybe just hope, that the EU will, eventually, reflect on the loss of Britain and the socio-cultural, economic and political fissures that exist and are growing and ask itself how it can reform itself so that others will not, also, want to leave.
This is both an opportunity and a challenge for Canada; we have the CETA in place and it should provide a good, firm base for a new free(er) trade deal with Britain. But I’m really afraid that Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland, François-Philippe Champagne, Mary Ng and the Laurentian Elites they represent are not up for the challenge.
* Edited to add: And the final results are in (from the BBC) …
… it is an 80 seat majority (385 Conservatives vs 285 in the combined opposition) which is still more than sufficient to manage Boris Johnson’s agenda.