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Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street in London after his Conservative Party won elections. Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside 10 Downing Street after his Conservative Party won a commanding majority in parliamentary elections, London, Dec. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

Why Boris Johnson’s Election Victory Could Create More Instability for the U.K.

Monday, Dec. 16, 2019

LONDON—In the weeks leading up to the British general election last Thursday, all the opinion polls suggested that the Conservative Party was on course for a large parliamentary majority, with the Tories enjoying an average lead of 10 points over the opposition Labour Party. Yet despite the polls having pointed in that direction all along, few observers expected such a crushing victory. In the end, the Conservatives took 365 seats, handing them an 80-seat majority and dealing Labour its most brutal defeat since 1935.

But it isn’t simply the scale of the Tories’ victory that provoked disbelief. It was the nature of it as well. The Conservative Party won its largest majority since Margaret Thatcher’s third electoral victory in 1987 by poaching solidly Labour seats in the north of England—Labour’s so-called Red Wall where many districts had never before sent a Conservative MP to Parliament. The constituency of Bishop Auckland, for instance, turned Tory blue for the first time since its creation in 1885. Mining communities and post-industrial towns from across the English rust belt—including longtime Labour strongholds such as Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Blyth Valley and Workington—all backed the Tories for the first time in generations. The historic shift allowed Prime Minister Boris Johnson to achieve what many experts regarded as impossible just a week ago. ...

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