Big win for Boris Johnson

Tories will have the needed majority to finally "get Brext done"

The Conservatives of PM Boris Johnson won an overall majority in the general election in Britain held on Thursday, according to the almost final results. The numbers suggest the Tories will get 363 MPs, well ahead of Labour with 203, the SNP with 48, and the Liberal Democrats with 11. The Brexit Party will get none.

Boris Johnson will return triumphantly to 10 Downing Street after his Conservatives swept aside Labour in many of its traditional heartlands. They will have their biggest majority at Westminster since Margaret Thatcher's 1987 election victory. The PM said the victory would give him a mandate to "get Brexit done" and take the UK out of the EU next month. Jeremy Corbyn said Labour had a "very disappointing night" and he would not fight a future election.

Addressing cheering party workers at Conservative headquarters, Johnson told them there has been a political earthquake, with the Tories winning a "stonking" mandate. "It does look as though this One Nation Conservative government has been given a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done," he pointed out.

"Above all I want to thank the people of this country for turning out to vote in a December election that we didn't want to call but which I think has turned out to be a historic election that gives us now, in this new government, the chance to respect the democratic will of the British people to change this country for the better and to unleash the potential of the entire people of this country," the PM said. Johnson became PM in July without a general election, after the Conservative Party elected him as leader to replace Theresa May and finally deliver Brexit.

During the election campaign Johnson focused relentlessly on a single message: "Get Brexit done", promising to take the UK out of the EU by 31 January 2020 if he got a majority. His main rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, promised voters another referendum with a choice between a renegotiated Leave deal and remaining in the bloc. The Liberal Democrats promised to cancel Brexit.

The majority in parliament will allow Johnson to lead the UK out of the EU it joined in 1973, but Brexit is far from over. The PM faces the daunting task of negotiating a trade agreement with the Union in just 11 months. After 31 January, the current Brexit deadline, Britain will enter a transition period during which it will negotiate a new relationship with the EU. This can run until the end of December 2022 under the current rules, but the Conservatives made an election promise not to extend the transition period beyond the 2020-end.

With votes still being counted in Britain, EU leaders were already gearing up to move forward with Brexit plans. Based on an exit poll, the leaders of Austria and Poland congratulated Johnson on his projected win. The leaders of Germany and France wouldn’t comment until official vote results come in later Friday, and other European leaders were similarly cautious.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “we are ready to negotiate” to get out of the Brexit stalemate. EU Council President Charles Michel promised that the leaders meeting Friday will send a “strong message” to the next British government and parliament about what the EU wants to do next on Brexit. The EU leaders were to meet the EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, on Friday morning about next steps ahead in Britain's impending departure from the Union.

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