UK exit poll hints at a Johnson win
Friday, December 13, 2019
That would fulfill the decision of British voters in 2016 to leave the EU. It would start a new phase of negotiations on future relations between Britain and the 27 remaining EU members.
Johnson did not mention the exit poll as he thanked voters in a tweet. “Thank you to everyone across our great country who voted, who volunteered, who stood as candidate,” he said. “We live in the greatest democracy in the world.”
Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said he was cautious about the poll, but that if substantiated it would give the party “a big majority” that could be used to “get Brexit done.”
Many investors hope a Conservative win would speed up the Brexit process and ease, at least in the short term, some of the uncertainty that has corroded business confidence since the 2016 vote.
A Labour drubbing would raise questions over the future of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who will have led his left-of-center party to two electoral defeats since 2017.
“Certainty this exit poll is a devastating blow,” said Labour trade spokesman Barry Gardiner. “It’s a deeply depressing result.”
Many voters casting ballots Thursday hoped the election might finally find a way out of the Brexit stalemate in this divided nation.
On a dank, gray day with outbreaks of blustery rain, voters went to polling stations in schools, community centers, pubs and town halls after a bad-tempered fiveweek campaign rife with mudslinging and misinformation.
Opinion polls had given the Conservatives a steady lead, but the result was considered hard to predict, because the issue of Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties.
ahalf years after the U.K. voted by 52%-48% to leave the EU, Britons remain split over whether to leave the 28nation bloc, and lawmakers have proved incapable of agreeing on departure terms.
Johnson pushed for the early election — Britain’s first December vote since 1923 — to try to break the political logjam. He campaigned relentlessly on a promise to “Get Brexit done” by getting Parliament to ratify his “oven-ready” divorce deal with the EU and take Britain out of the bloc as scheduled on Jan. 31.
The Conservatives focused much of their energy on trying to win in a “red wall” of working-class towns in central and northern England that have elected Labour lawmakers for decades but also voted strongly in 2016 to leave the EU. That effort got a boost when the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage decided at the last minute not to contest 317 Conservative-held seats to avoid splitting the proBrexit vote.
Labour, which is largely but ambiguously pro-EU, faced competition for antiBrexit voters from the centrist Liberal Democrats, Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties, and the Greens.
On Brexit, the opposition party said it would negotiate a new divorce deal with the EU and then offer voters the choice of leaving the 28nation bloc on those terms or remaining.
But on the whole Labour tried to focus the campaign away from Brexit and onto its radical domestic agenda, vowing to tax the rich, nationalize industries such as railroads and water companies and give everyone in the country free internet access. It campaigned heavily on the future of the National Health Service, a respected institution that has struggled to meet rising demand after nine years of austerity under Conservative-led governments.
An exit poll is projected Thursday outside the BBC building in London. Ballots are still being counted, with official results expected early Friday.