Headlines at 6.30am

  • Overwhelming victory for Boris Johnson with the Conservative Party on course for a Parliamentary majority of 78-80 – winning 45% of the UK vote.
  • Electoral map completely re-written with the Tories winning new seats in Labour heartlands.
  • Jeremy Corbyn confirms he will not be leader at the next General Election.
  • Mandate will allow Johnson to deliver his Brexit commitments: the UK will almost certainly now leave the EU on 31 January.
  • Biggest surge to the pound in a decade as the markets respond positively to the result.

Overview

Boris Johnson will now lead a majority government with the largest number of Conservative MPs since 1987 and the largest majority in Parliament since 2001.

In Johnson’s own words, this is a historic result with the Conservative campaign focused on getting Brexit done, allowing them to take whole swathes of seats from Labour across the North and the Midlands.

An incredibly disappointing evening for Labour, Jeremy Corbyn has already confirmed he will not lead the party into the next election. Finger pointing has already started this morning, and the entire Corbyn project to pull Labour further to the left looks in jeopardy.

Johnson will form his government today, with Parliament returning on Tuesday to deliver a Conservative Brexit and domestic policies.

Highlights

  1. The ‘Brexit Election’ – Constituencies that voted 55% or more in favour of Leave at the referendum turned from red to blue.
  2. Red Wall wrecked – The Tories have decimated the Red Wall. Notable wins include Sedgefield (former Blair seat), Bolsover (held by Dennis Skinner) Leigh (former Burnham seat), Workington, and Blythe Valley. That latter was the first to declare and set the tone for the evening with a 10% swing to the Tories.
  3. Tory big beasts survive – Against much speculation, cabinet big beasts Dominic Raab and Theresa Villiers, as well as Iain Duncan Smith, held on to their seats.
  4. Lib Dems decapitated – Jo Swinson loses her seat after a hugely disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats. Chuka Umunna, Sam Gyimah and Lucina Berger all failed to be re-elected.
  5. SNP domination – There are now more pandas in Scotland than Labour MPs – only Ian Murray survives. Nicola Sturgeon’s party is on track for 55 out of 59 seats.
  6. Independent Tories wiped out – Heavy losses for Dominic Greive, Anna Soubry, David Gauke and Anne Milton.
  7. Corybn criticises media for downfall – In his acceptance speech the Labour leader confirmed he will not be leader at the next General Election but will oversee a ‘process of reflection’ to help the party move on. Much of his speech was spent attacking media for undermining his campaign.
  8. Dodds done for – DUP Leader in Westminster, Nigel Dodds, has paid the price for his party’s pact with the Tories.

What does this result mean?

  1. Brexit will get done
  • With such a large majority, Johnson will now bring back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to Parliament before Christmas; it will pass unamended and the UK will almost certainly leave the EU on or before 31 January.
  • Formal negotiations on the future relationship will begin in the Spring and the Prime Minister has pledged to have these concluded and implemented by the end of 2020. However, there is almost consensus amongst experts that there is not enough time to conclude a comprehensive trade deal with Europe in this time.
  • Clearly Johnson now has more freedom from his own party to pursue an extension to the transition period should he wish to. That decision needs to be taken by 1 July.

(Please note further analysis on implications for Brexit will follow shortly.)

  1. The return of a domestic agenda – with a twist
  • After three years of policy stagnation, there will once again be a domestic agenda.
  • In his acceptance speech, Johnson referred to his commitment to One Nation Conservatism, and immediately reiterated his domestic pledges including 50,000 new nurses and 40 new hospitals.
  • The Conservative Party now represent previously held Labour constituencies that are pro significant public spending. It will be fascinating to see how this impacts Tory economic principles.
  1. A shift in power in the Tory Party
  • The scale of the PM’s victory means he is somewhat less reliant on the support of the ERG.
  • The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg has been briefed that a wholesale reshuffle will not happen until early in the new year, but it is not unreasonable to predict that current Cabinet members on the right of the party may well not be around for very long.
  1. The conclusion of Corbynism?
  • Securing its fewest seats since 1935, this was an agonising evening for Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.
  • The party’s failure to take a clear position on Brexit clearly alienated huge swathes of traditional working-class voters in the North and the Midlands. But Brexit was not the only issue. Activists and candidates up and down the country reported alarm about Corbyn himself. His views on international affairs and the economy proved to be a perennial issue for Labour’s traditional vote.
  • Corbyn looks set to resist calls to resign immediately and continue while a leadership contest takes place. MPs from the more centrist side of the party such as Yvette Cooper and Jess Phillips have not ruled out standing for the leadership.
  • Expect the post-mortem of this campaign and the upcoming contest to consider not just the personality of the leader and the strategy on Brexit, but the whole ideological shift to the left under Corbyn since 2015.

The first 100 days of Johnson’s Government

Two key milestones will be the Queen’s Speech on 19 December and the Budget expected in late January or February.

This activity will fall into two categories, picking up where the last government left off and delivering on manifesto pledges.

Picking up where they left off…

There are several bills introduced or promised in the previous session, some of which are important for the post-Brexit world, that you can expect to be swiftly reintroduced. These include:

  • The Agriculture Bill which will introduce the post-Common Agricultural Policy regime for farmers;
  • The Environment Bill which will set up an Office for Environmental Protection and set out a framework for environmental powers returned from Brussels;
  • The Trade Bill which will enable an independent trade policy; and
  • The Immigration Bill which will provide the framework policy after freedom of movement ends.

Similarly, given the prominence of the rollout of full fibre and gigabit broadband in Johnson’s leadership pitch and at the Conservative Party conference, the Telecoms Infrastructure Bill is almost certain to make a swift return.

But some crucial questions still need to be answered…

The size of the PM’s majority gives him space to impose policy in controversial areas such as social care. Issues like this will be an interesting test of the strength of the PM’s One Nation credentials, and he could use this opportunity to facilitate cross party consensus.

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