General Election 2019: Boris Johnson secures majority over a disunited kingdom

Alasdair Clark

With a defiant Boris Johnson boosted by a huge majority, will he follow through with promise to ignore Scottish referendum request? 

  • Boris Johnson delivers “historic” Tory victory
  • SNP sweep Scotland as Northern Ireland delivers nationalist majority
  • Victory is mandate for Scotland to have its say, argues Nicola Sturgeon

BORIS JOHNSON has secured a majority of 80 MPs after a historic win for the Conservatives in the General Election, but results in Northern Ireland and Scotland show a disunited kingdom.

The Conservatives have secured their biggest majority at Westminster since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 election victory, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said big gains for the SNP in Scotland send a “clear message” on a second independence referendum.

The prime minister has told Conservative party campaigners and staff in London that he will govern as a “one-nation Conservative”, but emphasised his mandate to “get Brexit done”. 

Labour suffered losses throughout England with several major figures, including the long-serving Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner, falling to a significant swing to the Tories. 

Conceding defeat, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not lead the party into another election and indicated he would discuss the next steps with the party in the coming days.  

Despite his majority however, Boris Johnson will face significant questions about how he will govern with such a different result in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP managed to re-draw the political map in Scotland, increasing the party’s Westminster bloc to 47, up 10 from 2017. Scottish Labour were largely wiped, with only Ian Murray managing to hold on to his seat as he did in 2015. 

“Tonight’s result is obviously hugely disappointing, in East Dunbartonshire, and across the whole country with Boris Johnson winning a majority.” Jo Swinson, ex-Lib Dem leader

On the number of seats lost, the Scottish Conservatives were the biggest losers as seven of their MPs lost their seats. 

Commenting on the SNP’s victory, Sturgeon acknowledged that not every vote for the SNP was a vote for indepdendence, but said the swing back to the party did send a clear message that Scotland should have a say over its future.

Sturgeon said: “There has been a strong endorsement in this election of Scotland having a choice over our future, of not having to put up with a Conservative government that we didn’t vote for and not having to accept life as a nation outside the European Union.”

The first minister went viral as news of arguably her most symbolic SNP gain broke, with the party’s Amy Callaghan delivering a huge blow to Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, who kicked off the election suggesting she could be the next prime minister. 

Addressing her defeat, Swinson said: “Tonight’s result is obviously hugely disappointing, in East Dunbartonshire and across the whole country, with Boris Johnson winning a majority.
“I am proud that in this campaign, the Liberal Democrats have stood up for openness, generosity and hope. We were honest about what we believe in and what we were trying to achieve.”

The SNP did see one shock loss in North East Fife, as the party’s popular foreign affairs spokesperson Stephen Gethins lost his seat to the Liberal Democrat candidate Wendy Chamberlain. 

Scottish Labour’s Lesley Laird lost out to Neale Hanvey, despite Hanvey being ditched by the SNP over alleged anti-Semitic posts on social media. In his acceptance speech, Hanvey said he was “cast aside” by the SNP but turned it around in 12 days. 

One senior SNP source told CommonSpace this morning that they were “very upset” that Hanvey had won in Fife whilst Stephen Gethins lost out. CommonSpace understands that Hanvey is likely sit as an independent in parliament until an internal SNP disciplinary committee rules on his case. 

“There has been a strong endorsement in this election of Scotland having a choice over our future,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Northern Ireland also seen surprising results, with voters delivering a nationalist majority of MPs for the first time as long-held unionist seats falling to Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance. 

DUP deputy-leader Nigel Dodds lost his seat to Sinn Féin’s John Finucane, a significant change according to many Irish commentators. 

Responding to the election results, the Scottish Greens said Nicola Sturgeon should now ask for a section 30 order. Co-leader Lorna Slater said: “A Conservative majority is terrible news for the poor and disenfranchised, for disabled people, for EU citizens and refugees, but we can’t lose hope.

“We can still resist Boris Johnson’s deregulated race to the bottom, which promises to rip up our rights and environmental protections and sell off our NHS. The Scottish Greens will continue the fight for equality and the planet.

“But the case for independence has never been clearer. Given it was all the Scottish Conservatives talked about in this election, Boris Johnson has no political capital to refuse a section 30 order now. The longer he waits, the louder the clamour will become. Nicola Surgeon should seek one immediately, especially since the Scottish Parliament already instructed her to do so in 2017.

“But the case for independence must be based on an alternative vision from Tory Britain. It must have equality, localism and building a new sustainable future at its heart. That is the whole point.”

Image courtesy of Arno Mikkor

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