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UK elections: Boris Johnson faces an unprecedented challenger in Ali Milani

The 25-year-old immigrant from Iran went door-to-door in the South Ruislip constituency where more than a hundred activists joined him in the canvassing campaigning to toss Johnson out.

SNS | New Delhi |

With Brexit deadline extended to January 31 and December general elctions approaching, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday launched his Conservative Party’s campaign, who is facing an unprecedented candidate against him. A young Muslim immigrant Ali Milani  who represents the Labour Party in Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituencies of northwest London.

According to The Guardian, Brunel University, Milani’s alma mater, where he is well known could add to his advantage in mobilising the student vote which is crucial if he is to topple Johnson, whose majority was halved in last general election 2017 to just 5,034, now the smallest of any prime minister since 1924.

British MPs seldom live in the districts, or constituencies,  they represent, and Johnson doesn’t live in Uxbridge, though he makes occasional meet-and-greet appearances, and Milani who happens to be a local believes could help him.

On Tuesday night, Milani went door-to-door in the South Ruislip neighborhood, urging people to toss Johnson out. More than a hundred activists joined him in the canvassing.

“This is a historic election right here. This could be the very first time we unseat a sitting prime minister. Right here, we have the power to stop Boris Johnson,” Milani said as he rang doorbells, trailed by photographers and camera crews.

Johnson is hopeful that the December 12 election will break the long impasse over Brexit and give his party a majority so he can extricate Britain from the European Union.

The Guardian says, “Milani requires a swing of just over 5% to dethrone Johnson. An Iranian immigrant who moved to a Wembley council estate with his mother and sister when he was five, he studied politics at Brunel, where he was the student union president before becoming a vice-president of the National Union of Students. A practising Muslim, he attends Friday prayers on Brunel’s campus, and he pitches himself as the local candidate.”

Meanwhile Johnson, 55, was born in New York and his father was a diplomat, who served in Brussels for a time, and his mother an artist. He was educated at Eton and Oxford. Before entering politics, he was a celebrity journalist.

The two candidates are at extreme poles from their family background to culture to their political ideologies.

The Washington Post reports, “Judging by one night of door-knocking, it was hard to gauge the excitement locals felt for either candidate. A few firmly but politely told Milani that they were backing Johnson. A few others gladly accepted his campaign fliers and said they were Labour all the way.”

“But most door knocks went unanswered – even if one could spy folks at home through the curtains. Many brushed the campaigners off, saying they were busy making dinner. One fellow seemed uncertain, but when Milani asked what languages he spoke and the man answered “Farsi,” the two struck up a rapport and all were invited in for tea. Milani declined. But as he was leaving, he noted, ‘I think we got a vote there.’ ”

Far from Uxbridge, Johnson appeared outside his official residence at Downing Street on Wednesday and urged voters, “Come with us, get Brexit done and take this country forward.” The dreary alternative – a Labour win or a hung Parliament – would turn “the whole of 2020 [into] a horror show of yet more dither and delay,” he warned.

If Johnson lost his Uxbridge seat, this hasn’t happened to a prime minister in modern times, then he would probably step down, Travers said. The party could try to create a sudden vacancy and stage a one-off election for one seat, “but there’s always a risk that the electorate won’t like that. . . . It’s hard to see him getting back into Parliament until there was a naturally occurring by-election.” In theory, Johnson could attempt to run his administration from the House of Lords, but that hasn’t happened since the premiership of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil more than a 100 years ago.