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PM Boris Johnson wins historic UK election, vows Brexit by Jan 31

Johnson, 55, who vigorously campaigned on a simple slogan "Get Brexit done," vowed that he will work "flat out" to repay the trust of the voters after the Conservatives' most emphatic majority since the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.

PTI|
Updated: Dec 13, 2019, 08.36 PM IST
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Election-weary British voters gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson a "powerful new mandate" in the historic General Elections as his Conservative Party on Friday won a commanding majority in Parliament to allow him to finalise UK's divorce deal with the European Union next month.

Johnson, 55, who vigorously campaigned on a simple slogan "Get Brexit done," vowed that he will work "flat out" to repay the trust of the voters after the Conservatives' most emphatic majority since the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.

A 365-seat haul gave the Conservative Party a solid 79-seat majority in the 650-strong House of Commons. The Conservatives won St Ives - the final seat to declare - by 80 votes, Skynews reported.

Addressing a victory rally, Johnson hailed a “new dawn” which "unarguably" broke the Brexit deadlock and vowed not to let down the “sacred trust” placed in him by the voters, who turned out for the first winter election in decades to register a 67 per cent turnout.

Johnson, who won his own seat in London's Uxbridge and South Ruislip, hailed the Conservative Party's triumph as a "powerful new mandate" to move forward with his deal to leave the 28-member economic bloc on January 31.

Fed up with the prolonged political turmoil over Brexit, voters gave Johnson the huge mandate so that he can get the UK out of the European Union by January -- no ifs, no buts.

"It does look as though this One Nation Conservative government has been given a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done – and not just to get Brexit done but to unite this country and to take it forward," he said.

"We did it, we pulled it off didn't we? We broke the deadlock, we ended the gridlock, we smashed the roadblock," Johnson, who was accompanied by his girlfriend Carrie Symonds and their pet dog Dilyn at the rally.

"With this election I think we've put an end to all those miserable threats of a second referendum," he said, as he got the crowd to repeat “Get Brexit Done” numerous times during an energetic victory speech.

Johnson had an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace to formally seek her permission to form the next government.

The Opposition Labour was down to just 203 seats, a disastrous performance for the party in decades which resulted in leader Jeremy Corbyn announcing that he would not lead the party in the next election.

"It has been a very disappointing night for Labour... I will not lead the party in any future General Election campaign,” said Corbyn, 70, as he won his own seat in London's Islington North constituency.

It marked a crushing defeat, which is almost entirely being blamed on Corbyn's leadership and his failure to take a clear stance on Brexit as well as counter growing allegations of anti-semitism within the party ranks.

A perceived anti-India stance since the Labour Party passed an emergency motion calling for international intervention in Kashmir is also likely to have swayed some of its traditional connect with the Indian diaspora voters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi quickly congratulated Johnson on his re-election with a thumping majority. "I wish him the best and look forward to working together for closer India-UK ties," Modi tweeted.

The Conservatives have taken a string of former Labour strongholds, with Labour having lost seats in the north of England, Midlands and Wales in areas that voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

"This has been a hard-fought election in a very cold time of the year because we needed a functioning Conservative majority,” said Priti Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin minister in Johnson's last Cabinet, in response to the exit poll which predicted an impressive victory for the Conservatives.

"We are committed to deliver on priorities and getting Brexit done is a priority. The deal is there, we want to move forward," she said.

Labour, which headed for its worst performances since 1935 as the so-called “red wall” of the party's heartlands towards the north of England suffered significant knockdowns, conceded that voters seemed to have voted strongly on the basis of Brexit.

“Brexit has dominated this election. If the results are anywhere near the exit polls, this is an extremely disappointing result,” Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said.

The snap election had been called by Johnson in a bid to win a majority for his Conservative Party and break the Commons deadlock over Brexit.

It resulted in the UK's first December polls in nearly a century and saw voters brave a cold winter's day to queue outside polling stations to cast their vote in what had been pegged as the most important election “in a generation”.

This also marked the UK's third General Election in less than five years and the second since the UK voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

Johnson, who had taken over from Theresa May earlier this year with a pledge to meet the October 31 Brexit deadline, was constantly frustrated with a lack of majority in Parliament.

During the campaign, he focused relentlessly on the "Get Brexit Done" message, promising to take the UK out of the EU by the new January 31, 2020 deadline if he was returned to power.

In contrast, his main rival Corbyn, had promised voters another referendum with a choice between a renegotiated Brexit deal and remaining in the economic bloc.

But Labour mainly campaigned on a promise to end Tory budget cuts by increasing spending on public services and the state-funded National Health Service, a strategy which it would seem failed to make a dent in the polls.

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