Triumphant Boris Johnson must now deliver on all those promises

South China Morning Post 發布於 2019年12月14日00:12 • SCMP Editorial
  • Following his landslide general election victory, Britain’s ‘one nation’ leader has to push ahead with complex Brexit talks and find the money for investment in health services, education and infrastructure
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured after delivering a statement at Downing Street after winning the general election, in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Britain's snap election was the most unpredictable for decades, but the results declared yesterday are crystal clear. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party has won a landslide victory. It means Brexit will be done at last. The nature of the win will also shake up British politics, reshaping the landscape. A new era has begun.

Johnson is the first prime minister to win a comfortable majority since 2005. The days of hung parliaments and coalition governments are over, he has a strong mandate and will be able to pursue his agenda. What form that takes remains to be seen. Johnson's message on Brexit is clear " get it done.

This appealed to voters frustrated by three years of wrangling, and the impasse in parliament will now be broken. With a large majority, the deal Johnson struck with the European Union will be passed, but that is not quite the same as getting Brexit done.

Britain's future relationship with the EU still needs to be worked out, notably the need for a trade agreement. This will involve complex talks. His determination to seal a deal by the end of next year, when the transition period concludes, is optimistic.

The Conservatives made extraordinary gains in working class parts of the country that traditionally vote for the opposition Labour Party. One reason for this was Johnson's stance on Brexit, which led many voters to swap sides. But it was also down to Labour's failings.

Its leader Jeremy Corbyn is deeply unpopular, and his outdated brand of socialism was never likely to strike a chord. Corbyn's sit-on-the-fence approach to Brexit and failure to engage with grass-roots electors led to his party's heavy defeat.

He says he will not lead Labour into another election, but he should step down soon to allow a new leader to emerge. Labour has lost four successive elections and needs a new strategy if it is to remain relevant. The Liberal Democrats also fared poorly, with leader Jo Swinson losing her seat.

Could Boris Johnson's victory spell end of the United Kingdom?

The certainty provided by Johnson's win is welcome. The way ahead for Brexit is now much clearer, but Johnson faces many challenges. He has styled himself a "one nation" leader, and has promised investment in health services, education and infrastructure.

The prime minister must now make good on those promises, repaying voters in working class areas who backed him. Scotland is also part of one nation. It strongly supports remaining in the EU and the sweeping victory there for the Scottish National Party suggests strong backing for independence. Johnson must find a way of bridging these differences if he is to bring reconciliation.

One feature of the campaign was whether he can be trusted. Will he, as he claims, be a unifying leader? Or will he, as critics say, be divisive, unpredictable and unreliable, Britain's answer to Donald Trump? The British people have placed faith in him. Now, he must deliver.

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.