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The announcement of Boris Johnson taking over as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister has many Remainers flustered and worried about Johnson’s Pro-Brexit position.
Following his victory, Boris held a brief but energetic speech, reaffirming his commitment to “getting Brexit done on October 31”, deal or no deal, and defeating the Labour Party in the 2022 general election.
Leader of the UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn took to Twitter to raise his concerns, as well as take not-so-subtle jabs at the new leader of his country.
In one tweet he writes, “Boris Johnson has won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members by promising tax cuts for the richest, presenting himself as the bankers’ friend, and pushing for a damaging No Deal Brexit.”
This tweet echoes many of the same criticisms levied at Donald Trump following his election, these being old Occupy Wall Street maxims of “tax the rich,” and “no more tax cuts.”
However, on Corbyn’s Brexit comment, indecision and inaction have characterized both of the UK’s last two Prime Ministers, with separation from the EU being pushed back again and again over the course of Theresa May’s leadership. This has led even left-leaning outlets like The Guardian to characterize her as a “disastrous politician” and a “failure” regardless of what political lens you view her leadership through. At the heart of this failure is Brexit, or rather lack of a Brexit, and it is not obvious that Corbyn would be any better given his Remainer stance.
While Corbin may feel disparaged for not being able to compete for another 3 years, his criticism of a No Deal Brexit is hardly useful: it was the only stance the Conservatives could take if they want to retain popular support during the next general election.
The recent EU election, something few believed the UK would have to participate in again, ended with the most unexpected of candidates surging into the lead, Nigel Farage, who now represents the UK on the pan European stage.
The emergence and success of Farage’s Brexit Party must have been quite dramatic for the other parties. UKIP, who made the haphazard mistake of promoting e-celebs on its platform during local and EU elections, such as Carl Benjamin and Mark Meechan, saw itself entirely decimated, with leader Gerard Batten resigning shortly thereafter.
Many of UKIP’s dispossessed members quickly flocked to Farage, their old leader.
Similarly, Conservatives have responded to May’s Brexit stagnation by taking a 180-degree stance on the issue and supporting Farage’s No Deal position.
According to the BBC, just last November Labour and Conservative were polled at 78%, each receiving roughly 39% of popular support. While the two parties still show dominance and have comparable levels of support, their overall share of support has gone down significantly compared to other parties, with the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party emerging as distinct and very real competitors. As of July 22, both the Liberal Democrats and Brexit Party sit at 18%, less than 10 points away from the two conventional frontrunners.
The risk is, of course, that failing to get the UK out of the EU may result in splitting the Conservative Party during the general election, allowing Labour to sweep in and possibly hold another referendum should they win. However, if Brexit is completed, then the Brexit Party no longer has a reason to exist and the Conservatives can consolidate their base before the general election.
At this point, the will of the people certainly appears to be in favour of the No Deal Brexit that Farage is offering — Farage’s ability to reclaim support so quickly makes this almost self-evident. If Johnson wants to retain his party’s unity and position within the UK, it only makes sense that he offers the same.