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Boris Johnson has led the Tories to a thumping victory. Here's everything you need to know

It was an exhaustive night of counting and a momentous election for the future of the UK.

Boris Johnson at his constituency announcement early this morning
Boris Johnson at his constituency announcement early this morning
Image: AP/PA Images

BORIS JOHNSON WILL be Prime Minister with a huge Conservative majority and Brexit will almost certainly happen next month.

Jeremy Corbyn will not lead Labour into another election after a disastrous defeat.

That is the long and the short of it after an exhaustive night of counting and a momentous election for the future of the UK. 

There is so much to unpack though, so here’s the definitive guide to what you need to know on the morning after the night before. 

It’s a landslide for Boris Johnson

As soon as the exit poll was announced seconds after 10pm, the scale of the victory for Johnson was clear. The Conservative leader had succeeded where his predecessor Theresa May had failed and won a majority for his party to legislate for Brexit. 

The majority for Johnson means that Brexit looks set to become a reality, with a vote on Johnson’s Withdrawal Deal possible this side of Christmas.

The scale of the victory also provides Johnson with a secure majority that could see him remain safely in power for the next five years.

Johnson was elected as Conservative leader in July with his party buying into his promise of delivering Brexit ‘do or die’ by 31 October.

That deadline was not met – but this victory means the next deadline of 31 January is unlikely to be missed. 

Johnson’s election as leader also came with the promise that he could potentially deliver seats to the Conservatives in constituencies previously thought of as out of reach for the party.  

As the results started to come in throughout the night, this promise appeared to be correct with the party flipping seats in Labour heartlands. 

The constituency of Blyth Valley, a former mining community in the north-east which had been in Labour’s hands since it was created in 1950, went from red to blue. 

It was a similar story in Bishop Auckland, a Labour seat since the 1930s, which went to the Conservatives by almost 8,00o votes.  

Such stories were repeated all across the electoral map and several Tories in these areas specifically thanked Johnson during their victory speeches. 

general-election-2019 Johnson delivering his victory speech early this morning. Source: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images

Despite rumours that his own seat could be in trouble, Johnson increased his majority and used his victory speech to speak to the nation. 

“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, which I think has turned out to be a historic election,” he said.

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. And that is what we will now do. 

It’s a disaster for Labour

There is no sugarcoating the scale of this defeat for Labour. It was the party’s worst result since 1935.

There are no silver linings as Labour lost a whole swathe of seats across some of its heartlands and looked about as far away from leading the country than at any point since the early 1980s.  

Corbyn couldn’t get away from the scale of the defeat, confirming that he intends to step down as leader.

Corbyn said he would not lead the party in the next general election but added that he wanted to stay on as leader while the party engages in a “process of reflection”.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Whether Corbyn will be allowed dictate his own timeline for departure remains to be seen, but the reaction from MPs from all over the country showed he had no choice but to make the choice he did.

Labour’s Phil Wilson, who lost the Sedgefield seat he had held since it was Tony Blair’s, said it was delusional to suggest the defeat was anything but Corbyn’s fault. 

“It’s Corbyn 100%,” former Labour advisor Ayesha Hazarika said when asked whose fault this result was. 

“He ought to be out, he ought to be gone now,” former MP John Mann said. 

As strong as there words were, they weren’t needed. The numbers were stark enough: Labour lost more than 50 seats, leaving it struggling to break 200 seats. 

It was a defeat across the board with details from the exit poll suggesting that the party had lost support in cities and towns of all sizes.

The party has seen a bitter internal conflict since Corbyn’s election in 2015 and this is only likely to worsen as the party reflects, not only on this result, but on the last four years. 

For some Labour members, Corbyn’s election was a long-awaited renaissance, while for many Blairites it was a fundamentally misguided mistake.  

These divisions night played out during the rolling TV coverage with former Blair minister Alan Johnson calling Corbyn supporters ‘cultists’ who had ‘messed up’ the party. 

Northern Ireland goes green

For the first time in history, there will be more nationalists than unionists MPs representing Northern Ireland - although Sinn Féin’s MPs will abstain from taking their seats. 

The SDLP returns to Westminster with two seats and Sinn Féin takes seven, for a total of nine seats representing nationalists. 

Party leader Colum Eastwood won back the Foyle seat previously held by John Hume while Claire Hanna took the other SDLP seat in South Belfast.

The DUP has taken eight seats, two fewer than 2017, but the headline story is the defeat of the party’s leader in Westminster Nigel Dodds. 

Sinn Féin’s John Finucane won the race in North Belfast and said his election was one which “transcended party politics”,  such was the impact of Brexit on voters’ priorities. 

The defeat for Dodds was symptomatic of a night in which the DUP lost the influence it has wielded since it was the kingmaker to Theresa May’s government.   

On the morning after the 2017 election the DUP was the talk of Westminster when the Conservatives were reliant on its 10 seats to govern.

This morning, the DUP was licking its wounds after the English public effectively backed the Johnson deal Arlene Foster leader has said represented a betrayal.

Sammy Wilson attempted to play down the change in arithmetic, saying the leverage the party had on the Conservatives “wasn’t going to last forever”.

“There are going to be many challenges and many things which I think the government’s own supporters are going to find it difficult to swallow. And that will give us opportunities to have some influence,” he said.

Former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt was more forthright in his assessment of what the results meant for unionism:

The great irony of all of this is that for decades, unionists have looked over their shoulders and decided that Irish nationalists were the great threat…but actually it’s English nationalism.

The Scottish question

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

While the Tories made gains all across England and even Wales, the party was crushed by the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland. 

The disparity provided more evidence – if it was needed – that Brexit was the central issue in this election.

The Remain-supporting SNP again won all of the seats they had won in their historic 2015 result and Nicola Sturgeon said that the party’s performance “exceeded the expectations I had”. 

“Scotland has sent a very clear message, we don’t want a Boris Johnson Conservative government or to leave the European Union, and we want Scotland’s future to be in Scotland’s hands,” she said. 

The party’s impressive performance means that it’s won 48 of the 59 seats in Scotland, bringing the question of Scottish independence right back to the fore once more.

Jo Swinson loses her seat

general-election-2019 Jo Swinson reacts to losing her seat. Source: PA Images

The Liberal Democrats hitched their wagon to remaining in the EU by revoking Article 50. It seems like that strategy did nothing for the party. 

The party won 12 seats in 2017 and looks to have won 13 seats this time around. 

As if to force home this failure, party leader Jo Swinson lost her seat in East Dunbartonshire to the SNP by a margin of just 149 votes. 

Swinson losing her seat was always a possibility if the party had a bad night, and so it proved, but it still represents a significant personal failure. 

Swinson was only elected as leader in July and began the campaign arguing that she was a potential prime minister. She ended it by saying she was dismayed by the results.

“Some will be celebrating the wave of nationalism that is sweeping on both sides of the border, and I do congratulate all those that are newly elected,” she said. 

But let me say now, for millions of people in our country, these results will bring dread and dismay and people are looking for hope.

Nigel Farage, irrelevance or influencer?

The Brexit Party is the biggest UK party in the European Parliament but it has failed to win any seats in the House of Commons.

This follows a number of previous failures by its leader Nigel Farage to make a dent in Westminster. Four years ago, his former party Ukip won 12.6% of the vote and took just 1 seat.

But despite yesterday’s failure, Farage has claimed a victory of sorts – with perhaps some justification. 

He pulled all his party’s candidates that were to stand against sitting Conservatives, putting a Johnson victory ahead of the prospects of his colleagues.

Farage said last night he had “spent his career” working towards Brexit and that it was now within touching distance.  

Arron Banks of Leave.eu was more clear in his assessment of Farage’s influence, saying rather alarmingly that “the right is united”.

“We set out to make the Conservative Party conservative again. I think it’s job done, so well done to Boris,” he said.

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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