Brexit, once hailed as a grand natural experiment for economists to dissect the repercussions of leaving a low-friction trade environment, has proven messier than anticipated.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised not to let down voters whose hands had “quivered over the ballot paper” before backing his Conservative party for the first time.
Johnson said, “We will get Brexit done on time by the 31st of January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes”.
“You may only have lent us your vote, you may not think of yourself as a natural Tory (Conservative) you may hope to return to Labour next time around, and if that is the case, I am humbled that you have put your trust in me,” he said.
The Conservatives were set for a resounding victory in an election in which Brexit was widely seen as the decisive factor, with his “Get Brexit done” mantra winning over former Labour voters in the opposition party’s traditional heartlands.
“We have won votes and the trust of people who have never voted Conservative before,” Johnson said
“Those people want to change. We cannot, must not, must not let them down.” Concluding his short speech given at 0700 GMT he said that there was another business to attend to before he got onto the main job of leaving the EU: “Let’s get Brexit done but first, my friends, let’s get breakfast done.”
On Friday, European leaders will charge EU negotiator Michel Barnier with negotiating a close trade deal with Britain after PM Johnson’s apparent election win set the stage for an orderly Brexit.
A landslide Conservative win would mark the ultimate failure of opponents of Brexit who plotted to thwart a 2016 referendum vote through legislative combat in parliament and prompted some of the biggest protests in recent British history.
An exit poll showed the Conservatives winning a landslide 368 seats, more than enough for a comfortable majority in the 650-seat parliament and the biggest Conservative national election win since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 triumph.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that he would stand down as his party faced its worst electoral defeat in 84 years, but he did not set a date for his departure, adding that he would remain in charge during a period of reflection.
The Scottish National Party, which strongly opposes Brexit, would win 55 of the 59 seats in Scotland, the poll said, setting the scene for it to demand a second independence vote after secession was rejected by 55% to 45% in 2014.
“Boris Johnson has to respect that the Scottish government in Edinburgh already has a mandate for a referendum on Scottish independence in a change of circumstances,” SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said.