BoJo’s Mandate and the British Exit
With a massive majority victory for Boris Johnson, the largest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher, he now has a, to quote, “powerful mandate” to get Brexit done. Frankly, he is correct and much of the country will feel vindicated that democracy can finally get done, especially when a national referendum was done three years ago to pass Brexit, still has not been followed through upon. But with his new mandate, Johnson will be hoping to get a deal by the end of January and make the road ahead for Britain, that much more stable.
Boris Johnson’s election strategy was actually rather simple. Rather than making this election about himself, he made this revolution purely a referendum on Jeremy Corbyn, and open anti-Semite with socialist policies, and Brexit, something that should have been done long ago. He played on Corbyn’s massive unlikability and the fact that this election was also based around whether democracy would truly be upheld. And so, it will. Of course, the cherries on top were Nigel Farage’s help in pulling out of districts where vote-splitting would be a problem and Boris Johnson’s own smart political tactic of promising to massively increase funding in the NHS. The latter does suggest that Johnson will be in favour of big government spending, and perhaps, even govern slightly more from the centre. This would make sense politically, given that many of his new voters this time around, are former Labour voters. This would at the very least allow him to keep some of that new voter base happy.
With all of that said, the big fish here is still Brexit. With one massive roadblock out of the way, Brexit is now one step closer to being accomplished. Brexit is a rather simple solution, that is not only hard to accomplish but is also indicative of a bevy of underlying discontent within the British population. A lot of this is justified anger at the EU, and perhaps some are not, but given that people voted for Brexit, it must still happen.
Immigration is one of the larger issues around the support for Brexit and the fact that remaining in the EU allows migrants from around the union to gain unfettered access from the European mainland, to Britain proper. A lot of this stems from Tony Blair’s mismanagement of Eastern European migrants coming into the country in the early 2000s. When the EU welcomed ten new member states from the Central and Eastern European regions, the Blair administration opened its labour market to these citizens immediately. They anticipated around 10,000 immigrants to come, but in reality, Britain got around 130,000–150,000 new immigrants. The massive issues with these refugees, and with much of the mass immigration that came later around 2015, was that the immigrants were often low-skilled workers. This meant that for the last decade, Britain has constantly had debates over welfare shopping, job displacement and exploitation of cheap labour. Because of these issues, many British workers have had their labour replaced by foreign migrants willing to work for less money. This has caused a lot of resentment at the EU and the idea that because Britain was part of the union, is why many British workers are facing a lack of employment. To add to this, the British economy outside of London has been stagnating heavily. All this social resentment has been crucial towards powering Brexit support.
On a political, and perhaps the more important philosophical reason for Brexit is the growing amount of influence that the European Union has on Britain. The European Union has more or less grown to become a continental governmental system, with its form of governmental system with a legislative and judicial branch. These branches make laws that the UK must follow, even though the people in the UK did not directly vote for it. For many of the people in Britain, it seems like an upheaval of British democracy. That a foreign government can dictate the affairs of the people within Britain is disconcerting, given that many of these politicians that vote on the future of Britain have never set foot on British soil. For many Brexit voters, leaving the European Union is a fundamental fight for sovereignty. The fact that the EU has made it so difficult for Britain to leave the European Union, is simply further proof for people that the EU is just a foreign entity chaining Britain to its mainland Europe prison.
On an economic level, things are a lot more mixed. Aside from the economic problem already existing as a result of the stagnating British economy, there is also the issue of the declining fishing industry in Britain, historically a mainstay. When Britain joined the European Economic Community, the UK had to open up its waters to other countries, which has contributed to the decline of one of Britain’s most important industries, especially for those living on the coastline, where wages are falling behind. On a different note, the British pound has also suffered due to being part of the European Union, a being which has many economically suffering countries within it, like Italy and Greece. That Britain constantly has to support them in the union, has decreased the value of the pound. The Conservative Party and other pro-Brexit parties like the UKIP and the Brexit Party claim that leaving the Union will allow Britain to pay out less to foreign suffering countries, and therefore, be able to provide more public spending at home. To add on to all of this, leaving the European Union gives Britain stronger ties with the United States, as President Trump is already thinking about a massive trade agreement with Britain the moment, they leave the EU. Will any of these aforementioned issues solve Britain’s growing economic tension? Many economists doubt that it will. Due to economic uncertainty that will most certainly happen post-Brexit, many businesses will likely move out of Britain, which will harm the British economy. Foreign direct investments will also get a hit, considering that much of the reason that Britain has always been an attractive investment location has been its ties to mainland Europe. And finally, the immediate effects of the referendum result in 2017 on the economy can be seen as a test of what Johnson’s administration must face post-Brexit. In 2017, following the result, increased inflation in the UK and lowered wages, slightly. The stock market also suffered, and the pound fell to its lowest value since 1985. While this might not happen again after truly leaving the European Union, and at this point, this is all speculation, it does not speak well about the UK’s future economic prospects. It’s all very mixed right now. Pro-Brexiteers say that the economy will improve, and many of Brexit’s opponents say it won’t.
But really, in the end, Brexit never really has been about the nitty-gritty details about whether Brexit will add another zero to the end of the UK’s GDP. At least for most people. Perhaps, leaving the EU is simply to regain some of that old nostalgia of old Britain. With the culture of Britain rapidly shifting with the introduction of new immigrants and the EU forcing its policy down the throats of the British, it is easy to sympathize with many of the coastline folk in Britain, who simply want a return to the days of old. Days, where economic struggles were not nearly as bad and social resentment, was not common. Call them old-fashioned, but to be honest, there is always an appeal to this line of thinking. Boris Johnson’s mandate might finally get this through and provide new hope for the disillusioned in Britain.