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What you need to know about the UK election result

December 13, 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party secured a comfortable majority — meaning fewer hurdles for the UK leader to fulfill his mantra of "get Brexit done."

Boris Johnson
Image: picture.alliance/Zumapress/D. Haria

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed his party's election victory as a "powerful mandate" to get Brexit done after the Conservatives secured a sweeping majority in the UK Parliament.

The landslide win marks the strongest Conservative performance at the polls since Margaret Thatcher's 1987 triumph.

In a speech outside 10 Downing Street on Friday, Johnson urged Britain to "let the healing begin" after years of wrangling since the June 2016 referendum.

"I frankly urge everyone on either side of what are, after three-and-a-half years, an increasingly arid argument, I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin," Johnson said outside Downing Street.

"I know that after five weeks, frankly, of electioneering, this country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from
politics and a permanent break from talking about Brexit."

What are the official results?

With all seats counted, the Conservatives, or Tories, have secured 365 seats — soaring past the 326 threshold needed to secure a majority. The opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, won 203 of the 650 seats in Parliament.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) took 48 seats while the Liberal Democrats secured 11. 

 What are the significant outcomes?

While Labour was not expected to win an outright majority in the election, the dramatic blow to the party's seat tally prompted Corbyn to announce he will no longer lead the party in any future elections. Labour lost 59 seats — most of them flipped by Conservatives — and marked the party's worst election defeat since the 1930s.

Pockets in northern and central England, which have traditionally favored the Labour Party, rejected Corbyn's socialist platform and offer of a second Brexit referendum. Sedgefield, held for years by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, fell to Johnson's Conservatives — the first time Tories have taken the seat since 1931.

Read more: Opinion: Boris wins, but the UK loses

"I will discuss with our party to ensure there is a process now of reflection on this result and on the policies that the party will take going forward and I will lead the party during that period to ensure that discussion takes place and we move on into the future," said Corbyn, signaling he will stay on as leader of the Labour Party in the near future. 

The recently elected leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, lost her seat to the Scottish Nationalist Party by a mere 149 votes. The LibDems had stumped for the unequivocal reversal of Brexit. 

Nicola Sturgeon at rally
Nicola Sturgeon's SNP have scooped more than three-quarters of Scottish seatsImage: picture-alliance/dpa/PA/A. Milligan

What does this mean for the Union?

Nationalist parties made significant gains this election. The anti-Brexit SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon, secured more than three-quarters of Scottish seats. The result will put Scottish independence back on the agenda. The SNP believes it now has a new mandate to hold another referendum, as the majority of Scotland voted to remain in the European Union during the 2016 Brexit referendum. 

Irish nationalists outperformed pro-British unionists in Northern Ireland for the first time since the partition of Ireland in 1921. Sinn Fein, the largest Irish nationalist party, and fellow pro-Irish SDLP, won a combined total of nine seats. The Democratic Unionist Party, kingmakers in the last UK general election, saw their return drop from 10 to eight. The result, favoring the Irish nationalists, will likely throw the Union into question — and for some, even into doubt. 

UK Wahlen l Wahlkampfveranstaltung bei der JCB Baufirma - Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson now has free reign to press forward with BrexitImage: Getty Images/WPA/B. Stansall

What does this mean for Brexit?

The results show that throughout the UK, with the exception of Scotland and Northern Ireland, has overwhelmingly rejected bids to slow down or outright reject Brexit — and this gives Johnson renewed momentum in ending a three-year political deadlock to press forward with his Brexit plans.

"We will get Brexit done on time by the 31st of January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes," the prime minister told supporters.

The UK is set to leave the EU on January 31 under the terms of the deal Johnson negotiated. However, this still needs to pass Parliament.

Read moreWhat happens with Brexit after Boris Johnson's victory?

EU UK flag
Britain and the EU have to negotiate a trade deal by the end of 2020 Image: picture-alliance/dpa/AP/F. Seco

What is the view from Europe?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a statement through her spokesperson, said: "Congratulations, Boris Johnson, on your resounding victory. I look forward to working with you for the friendship and strong cooperation between our nations."

EU leaders, who gathered in Brussels on Friday for a summit, expressed relief over the certainty of the election results

"It's an enormous victory for him on a personal level and also a very clear result for his party. I think it's a positive thing that we have a decisive outcome in Britain," said Irish leader Leo Varadkar.

France's European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin told reporters: "What's certain tonight is that this clarification seems to have come."

"The most important thing with Brexit is not the way we divorce, it's what we build afterwards," she added.

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Twitter said the result gave Johnson "a clear mandate" and that he looked forward to "constructive cooperation."

EU Council President Charles Michel, who is hosting the Brussels summit, said: "We are ready for the next steps and we will see if it's possible for the British Parliament to accept the Withdrawal Agreement and take a decision."

The director-general of the Federation of German Industry, Joachim Lang, said: "The fog in London is finally receding."

"What's needed now is a clear course in the UK over what exactly economic relations with the European Union should look like in the future."

Read more: German business leaders welcome clear UK election outcome

What about the rest of the world?

Leaders across the globe have shared congratulatory messages on social media. US President Donald Trump praised Johnson for his election win, saying the UK and US are now "free to strike a massive new trade deal after Brexit."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauded Johnson's "return with a thumping majority."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted: "Congratulations @BorisJohnson on a resounding victory and being returned as UK PM. Looking forward to the stability this brings and a new deal for Oz with the UK. Say g’day to the quiet Britons for us."

The pound surged alongside UK stocks on Friday, with investors warming up to the market-friendly Tories and the party's clear election win. The sterling was up at nearly 2%.

The clear election result, as well as a potential truce in the US-China trade spat, saw Asian markets soar. Tokyo surged 2.6%, Hong Kong jumped more than 2% and Shanghai stocks increased by 1.8%. 

stb/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP)
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