Boris Johnson’s big victory is a personal vindication for the prime minister – for risking the country’s first winter election for almost a century; for running an almost presidential-style campaign, starring himself; for his ruthless purge of Remainers from his parliamentary party; and, above all, for making the election all about Brexit. Each or all of those decisions could have rebounded. In the end, Boris Johnson’s gamble – and it was a gamble – paid off.
The clarity of his victory gives the Conservative Party the first safe overall majority any party has enjoyed in the House of Commons since Tony Blair’s last win for Labour in 2005, and it frees Johnson from having to seek alliances that would limit his room for manoeuvre. While a bitter blow for still-hopeful Remainers in the UK and opponents of Brexit, such as Donald Tusk, in the just-departed leadership in Brussels, the election result means that there is now not the slightest prospect of a second referendum. The UK is now on course to leave the EU formally by the end of January.
In the short term, this simplifies a great deal. It also rescues the UK from another round of embarrassing and potentially bad-tempered negotiations on a further delay. That should lighten the mood with Brussels, and enable a business-like approach to prevail on both sides as the UK embarks on the next, and potentially still more complex, process of trade negotiations.
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