John­son’s his­toric vic­tory

Con­ser­va­tives on course for land­slide in party’s big­gest suc­cess since Thatcher as Cor­byn sup­port col­lapses

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Gor­don Rayner Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

BORIS JOHN­SON is on course for an his­toric land­slide vic­tory to­day af­ter an exit poll pre­dicted an 86-seat Con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity.

The Tories are pre­dicted to win 368 seats – 50 up on 2017 – in what would be their best re­sult since 1987.

On a cat­a­strophic night for Labour, Jeremy Cor­byn’s party was pre­dicted to end the day with just 191 seats, down 71 on the last elec­tion in their worst re­sult since 1935.

Seats held by Labour since 1918 were pre­dicted to turn Con­ser­va­tive as Mr John­son smashed through the “red wall” in the Mid­lands and the North.

It means the Prime Min­is­ter can forge ahead with his plan to get Bri­tain out of the Euro­pean Union by Jan 31, with a vote on his deal pos­si­ble be­fore Christ­mas.

It also means Mr Cor­byn is al­most cer­tain to an­nounce his res­ig­na­tion as Labour leader to­day, with John Mcdon­nell re­port­edly lined up as a care­taker re­place­ment.

Mr Cor­byn has now ce­mented his place as the least pop­u­lar, and least suc­cess­ful Labour leader in mod­ern history, far out­strip­ping Michael Foot’s disastrous per­for­mance in 1983.

The first in­di­ca­tion that the poll pre­dic­tion was turn­ing to re­al­ity came at 11.30pm in the for­mer min­ing town of Blyth in Northum­ber­land, where a 7,915 Labour ma­jor­ity was wiped out in a seat held by Labour since it was formed in 1950.

The Tory can­di­date, Ian Levy, took the seat from Labour with a ma­jor­ity of 712. The con­stituency had been No85 on the Tory’s tar­get list.

The other big win­ners of the night were the SNP, pre­dicted to gain 20 seats to fin­ish with 55 as Labour was also swept away in Scot­land.

In Eng­land and Wales, Brexit ap­peared to have proved de­ci­sive, as Leave-sup­port­ing con­stituen­cies turned to Mr John­son to get Bri­tain out of the EU.

The Lib­eral Democrats are pre­dicted to win 13 seats, leav­ing them back where they started in 2017 with­out any of the gains they had made through de­fec­tions in the past two years.

It leaves Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Jo Swin­son’s fu­ture in doubt, with even her sta­tus as an MP in the bal­ance as the SNP ap­peared to have made ma­jor

Boris John­son took his dog, Di­lyn, along to vote in West­min­ster. Jeremy Cor­byn, be­low, is ex­pected to re­sign with Labour on course for its worst elec­tion re­sult since the Thir­ties gains in East Dun­bar­ton­shire. If the re­sult is con­firmed to­day, Mr John­son is ex­pected to reshuf­fle his Cabi­net over the week­end, ready for his Brexit Bill to be tabled in the Com­mons next week, with a vote on it pos­si­ble a week to­mor­row. There were re­ports that the House of Lords could be made to sit be­tween Christ­mas and new year to ac­cel­er­ate the Prime Min­is­ter’s plans for Brexit and be­yond.

Af­ter a nerve-shred­ding week for the Tories, in which polls had sug­gested their lead was be­ing eaten away and the Labour turnout ap­peared to be higher than ex­pected, the exit poll sug­gested a huge vin­di­ca­tion for Mr John­son’s tac­tics of con­cen­trat­ing on his “get Brexit done” mes­sage.

The joint BBC/ITV/SKY exit poll by IPSOSMORI spoke to 20,000 vot­ers in 144 con­stituen­cies, and pre­dicted a Con­ser­va­tive vote share of 46 per cent, their high­est since 1970, with Labour managing just 32 per cent. The Brexit Party was pre­dicted to win no seats.

The pound soared against the dol­lar and the euro as the exit poll came through. The pound was up 1.85 per cent to $1.342 and up 1.09 per cent to €1.202 within min­utes of the an­nounce­ment, the high­est rate since

May last year. The pre­dicted ma­jor­ity of 86 is only 16 seats short of Mar­garet Thatcher’s sec­ond vic­tory in 1987, and would be a mas­sive 61 seats larger than John Ma­jor’s last win in 1992, which no Tory leader had bet­tered un­til now.

Mr John­son tweeted: “Thank you to ev­ery­one across our great coun­try who voted, who vol­un­teered, who stood as can­di­dates. We live in the great­est democ­racy in the world.”

Among the Labour stronghold­s pre­dicted to turn blue were Rother Val­ley, which has been Labour since 1918; Bolsover, held by Den­nis Skin­ner since 1970; Bas­set­law, held by Labour since 1929; Great Grimsby, Labour since 1945; Bishop Auck­land, Labour since 1935; Don Val­ley, Labour since 1922, with a 5,169 ma­jor­ity be­ing de­fended by Caro­line Flint; Leigh, also Labour since 1922, and Ash­field, a Labour seat since 1979.

Gareth Snell, the MP for Stoke-ontrent Cen­tral de­fend­ing a ma­jor­ity of 3,897, said: “I’m go­ing to lose badly and this is the start of 20 years of Tory rule.”

Priti Pa­tel, the Home Sec­re­tary, said the Gov­ern­ment would move quickly to “get Brexit done” if its ma­jor­ity is con­firmed. She said: “As we have out­lined through­out this en­tire cam­paign, the fo­cus has been on Brexit.

“We’ve had grid­lock in Par­lia­ment, we want to get Brexit done, we have heard the Prime Min­is­ter say this.

“Get it done be­fore Christ­mas, in­tro­duce the leg­is­la­tion and get that mov­ing in Par­lia­ment, mov­ing the coun­try out of that paral­y­sis so we can in­vest in pub­lic ser­vices and get the coun­try mov­ing.”

Mr Mcdon­nell, the shadow chan­cel­lor, said Brexit was “to blame” for Labour’s cat­a­strophic re­sult, and re­fused to point the finger at Mr Cor­byn.

Book­ies made Mr Cor­byn an odd­son 1/50 to be gone by the end of the week, with Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit sec­re­tary, the 9/4 favourite with Paddy Power to re­place him. Rebecca Long-bai­ley, the shadow busi­ness sec­re­tary, was 7/2 sec­ond favourite, with back­bencher Yvette Cooper at 9/1 and An­gela Rayner, shadow health sec­re­tary, at 10/1.

Barry Gar­diner, the shadow trade

IT WAS the earth­quake mo­ment that sug­gested that Boris John­son was on course for a his­toric vic­tory.

Blyth Val­ley, a Northum­ber­land for­mer min­ing con­stituency that has been a Labour strong­hold since 1950, un­ex­pect­edly turned blue at around 11.30pm, sig­nalling the start of an ex­tra­or­di­nary re­align­ment of Bri­tish poli- tics that con­tin­ued into the early hours of this morn­ing.

De­clared the win­ner by 712 votes, newly elected Tory MP Ian Levy could not quite be­lieve what was hap­pen­ing as cheers for “Boris” rang out as he vowed to re­turn to West­min­ster to “get Brexit done”.

The un­prece­dented mo­ment ap­peared to set the scene for a Churchilli­an tri­umph for the Con­ser­va­tives not seen since the days of Mar­garet Thatcher. 1

It was al­ways go­ing to be case of cometh the hour, cometh the man. With Brexit hang­ing in the bal­ance and Bri­tain fac­ing the prospect of be­ing taken over by a prof­li­gate, anti-semitic Marx­ist, there was only ever one Con­ser­va­tive politi­cian who could carry the na­tion be­yond what has been the most di­vi­sive pe­riod in po­lit­i­cal history since the Sec­ond World War.

Yet an exit poll pre­dict­ing a Tory ma­jor­ity of 86 sug­gested that the Prime Min­is­ter had not just smashed through the so-called Red Wall but con­signed Jeremy Cor­byn’s hard-left Com­mu­nist ca­bal to the an­nals of history.

Pum­melling Labour into the worst drub­bing since 1935 – worse even than Michael Foot’s hu­mil­i­a­tion of 1983 – the pro­jec­tion sug­gested the elec­torate had given a two-fin­gered salute to the Mo­men­tum-stoked pol­i­tics of hate that has con­sumed the once ven­er­a­ble Labour Party.

Re­flect­ing three and a half years of pub­lic anger over Brexit, the 368-seat pro­jec­tion for the Tories was an unashamed re­flec­tion of the si­lent ma­jor­ity’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to get Brexit done in

As in 2016, the West­min­ster bub­ble burst as the met­ro­pol­i­tan elite was again proved to be out of kil­ter with the wider elec­torate

the face of those who have done ev­ery­thing in their power to be­tray the ref­er­en­dum re­sult. Any­one read­ing Twit­ter in the run up to the nail-biting exit poll re­veal at 10pm could have been for­given for ex­pect­ing a re­peat of 2017 and an­other hung par­lia­ment.

Yet, as in 2016, when 17.4 mil­lion peo­ple voted to Leave, the West­min­ster bub­ble burst as the met­ro­pol­i­tan elite was once again proved to be com­pletely out of kil­ter with the wider elec­torate.

“Magic Grandpa” had spent the day record­ing vi­ral videos in a bid to en­cour­age a youthquake not seen since his name was be­ing chanted at Glas­ton­bury in 2017. But last night, no one was cheer­ing “Oh, Jeremy Cor­byn”.

As the Night­mare Be­fore Christ­mas ap­peared to have been averted, the pound surged as an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent hash­tag started trend­ing on so­cial me­dia: #Cor­by­nout.

Pro­jected to win just 13 seats, the exit poll also ap­peared to sound the death knell on the Lib­eral Demo­crat’s il­lib­eral and un­demo­cratic quest to re­voke Ar­ti­cle 50 as well as the fate of all those de­fec­tors who con­spired to block Brexit.

Even Labour leavers faced the chop as their tra­di­tional vot­ers pun­ished MPS for their party’s end­less pre­var­i­ca­tion over Brexit. This wasn’t just a re­jec­tion of re­vo­ca­tion but a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum too.

Hav­ing once been la­belled the party of the rich, the Tories looked set to move into new work­ing-class ter­ri­tory, beat­ing the Brexit Party to win seats that had never even con­tem­plated vot­ing Con­ser­va­tive be­fore.

Some had wor­ried the party’s over­cau­tious ap­proach might back­fire against ar­guably the riski­est ri­val can­di­date for prime min­is­ter this coun­try has ever known.

In what had at times felt like an ag­o­nis­ingly drawn out and ar­du­ous cam­paign, Mr John­son played it un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally safe, re­fus­ing to be grilled by An­drew Neil and re­duced to end­lessly re­peat­ing sound­bites.

But in the end, prudence tri­umphed over profli­gacy. The low-risk strat­egy proved to be high re­ward.

Hav­ing sen­si­bly set ex­pec­ta­tions low at a mod­est “nine more seats”, Mr John­son’s shock pro­jected vic­tory – com­ing af­ter some polls put him just five points ahead on Wed­nes­day – sug­gest he has not only saved Brexit but also re­vived the fu­ture of One Na­tion Con­ser­vatism in Bri­tain. This morn­ing, the UK may breathe a col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief but the hard work is yet to be­gin. Hav­ing won the bat­tle of cap­i­tal­ism over so­cial­ism, Mr John­son now needs to win the war to get Bri­tain out of the EU by the end of next month – and se­cure a free trade deal with Brus­sels be­fore Dec 31, 2020.

How­ever, un­like his first 120 days in of­fice, he will no longer have to worry about the House of Lords thwart­ing the With­drawal Agree­ment for un­der the Sal­is­bury Con­ven­tion, peers can­not op­pose a sec­ond or third read­ing of any gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion promised in its man­i­festo.

The Prime Min­is­ter has been elected on the ba­sis of the ma­jor­ity of or­di­nary, de­cent, hard-work­ing peo­ple be­liev­ing he will hon­our his prom­ise to get Brexit done. But enor­mous trust has also been placed in his pledge to un­leash Bri­tain’s po­ten­tial out­side of the EU, not just in Lon­don and the South East but also in those long-for­got­ten towns in the Mid­lands and the North that have placed their trust in an al­ter­na­tive ide­ol­ogy.

An en­tire na­tion’s hopes are rest­ing on Mr John­son pick­ing up the pieces of what many re­gard as our bro­ken democ­racy and mov­ing the Union King­dom for­ward, to­gether as one.

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