How Boris Johnson’s election gamble paid off

(Reuters) – It was a straight forward message: “Get Brexit done.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the Conservative Party’s headquarters following the general election in London, Britain December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The mantra of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party during the national election campaign was aimed at harnessing voter frustration at a parliamentary logjam over Britain’s exit from the European Union.

It worked.

Beyond the traditional strategy of swaying voters in swing districts held by the main opposition Labour Party, Johnson wanted to strike directly at Labour’s heartlands in the hopes of winning support from people who had never voted Conservative but for whom Brexit had come to trump even traditional party allegiances.

The Conservatives secured a commanding victory, winning 365 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons – the party’s largest majority since under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. The result handed Johnson his first national election victory but also delivered a dramatic blow to his main competitor, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Party suffered a crushing defeat with just over 200 seats.

For 55-year old Johnson, who only entered Downing Street this summer after his Conservative predecessor resigned, calling an election had been a high-stakes gamble.

But he also considered it a necessity to convert his party’s minority in the House of Commons into a majority and move his government’s agenda forward. Notably, that includes Britain – the world’s fifth largest economy – exiting the European Union by the end of January, which would mark the country’s most significant trade and foreign policy move since World War Two.

The five-week campaign also saw Johnson facing questions about his personal trustworthiness after his repeated failed promises during the year to deliver Brexit by the end of October “do or die.”

He faced allegations of failing to disclose close personal ties with a U.S.

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