• Elisabeth Laird

GE 2019: A Brexit Election?

And at the stroke of 11:00, the United Kingdom's departure from the EU was ensured: with a majority of 79, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has won the backing of the UK to see Brexit delivered. Unlike the narrow win of the original 2016 referendum, this Conservative majority - the largest since Margaret Thatcher - will see out any lasting thoughts of thwarting Brexit. One should remain cautious, despite the multitude of voices that will assuredly say otherwise in the coming months, before prescribing catch-all reasons as to what motivated voters. We cannot read the minds of every individual in the ballot box, so we cannot say that this was purely a Brexit election. The outcome is a mix of a vote for Brexit, a vote to end the deadlock in Westminster and refocus on sorely neglected domestic issues, a vote against Jeremy Corbyn, a vote against antisemitism, a vote for a leader with bravado, a vote for the Scottish Nationalist Party. On the latter, while we may see a return to politics as usual, the deeper implications for Brexit and the union will continue to churn in unrest as this dust settles. The loss of prominent one-nation conservatives, support for the SNP's pledge to hold a second referendum, the growth of 'indy-curiousness' in Wales, and the steadfast inability to directly address English nationalism will hold heavy implications for the future of the United Kingdom. The UK may be ready to stop looking to Europe, but that now means that it will have to look at itself.


Meanwhile in Brussels, the 27 heads of state (and Council President Charles Michel filling in for the UK) are meeting to discuss the new Green Deal; the EU's long-term budget (2021-2027); and external relations with Africa, Russia, and Turkey. Leaders are also expected to discuss preparations for the negotiations on future EU-UK relations after the withdrawal, as well as express support for the Commission's reappointment of Michel Barnier as the EU's negotiator.

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