(Final result: Conservatives won 365 seats -- an 80-seat majority. Labour got 208, Scottish National Party 48)
(CNSNews.com) – Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party secured a large majority in the House of Commons overnight, in a decisive election victory expected to ease Britain’s departure from the European Union next month.
Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who won the backing of some high-profile supporters of 2020 presidential candidate and fellow socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders – was looking down the barrel of a historic defeat.
With 649 of the constituencies for the 650 seats in the House of Commons declared, the Conservatives has secured 364 seats, well over the 326 needed for a majority. Labour has 203 seats, a loss of 59, facing its worst defeat since 1935.
Of the other parties, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has picked up 13 seats for a total of 48, while the Liberal Democrats has secured 11 seats and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 8.
“Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN!” President Trump tweeted in the early hours of Friday morning. “Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U. Celebrate Boris!”
The campaign was dominated by Britain’s delayed withdrawal from the E.U., with Johnson calling for a strong mandate to “Get Brexit done,” three-and-a-half years after Britons in a referendum voted 52-48 percent in support of leaving the E.U.
With a sizeable majority in hand, Johnson should have the support he needs in the House of Commons to take Britain out of the 28-member union on January 31 next year.
Corbyn had pledged to renegotiate a Brexit deal, then put it to British voters in another referendum that would also offer the option of rejecting Brexit. The Liberal Democrats had said that if its leader Jo Swinson became prime minister it would cancel Brexit altogether. (Instead, Swinson lost her seat to an SNP rival, and resigned.)
Brexit and delays in achieving the withdrawal loomed large in the campaign, along with Labour accusations that a Conservative government would put Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) on the table in post-Brexit trade negotiations with the United States. Labour has also been roiled by charges of anti-Semitism, with some prominent figures withholding their support as a result.
Sanders team backed Corbyn
As the results came in, Corbyn said his party had had a “very disappointing night,” and indicated he would not lead it into the next election.
Corbyn, who won the party leadership in 2015, is the most left-wing Labour leader in a generation.
“Britain deserves better than the Conservatives’ reckless approach to complex global challenges or the outsourcing of U.K. foreign policy to U.S. President Donald Trump,” his party’s election manifesto’s foreign policy section declared.
His ideology and policies evidently won support in the United States among some key backers of “democratic socialist” Sanders.
As Britons were voting on Thursday the campaign’s national organizing director Claire Sandberg tweeted, “The Bernie team says #VoteLabour. Solidarity with all the folks knocking on doors in the cold rain getting out the vote #ForTheManyNotTheFew!” (“For the many, not the few” was Labour’s campaign slogan.)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has endorsed Sanders for president, made her preference clear, posting a Corbyn election ad on her Twitter feed.
“This video is about the UK, but it might as well have been produced about the United States,” she said. “The hoarding of wealth by the few is coming at the cost of peoples’ lives. The only way we change is with a massive surge of new voters at the polls. UK, Vote!” (The tweet received more than 50,000 “likes.”)
After the exit polls were released Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, a surrogate for Sanders, expressed dismay about developments across the Atlantic.
“Sending love & solidarity to British Muslims,” she tweeted. “I had the opportunity to tour 5 cities in the UK and met with so many Muslims who were worried this moment may come. I’m sorry. I don’t even know what else to say.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted later, “Good news as UK voters reject [Corbyn] and his ugly antisemitism. Still stunned that [Ocasio-Cortez] and other US pols endorsed him. Let's hope this will push him from center stage and drain the hate out of British politics, let alone the rest of the world.”
Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor in the Obama White House, tweeted of the outcome, “There are a lot of factors that went into this massive defeat, but progressives have to learn from them to do better on both sides of the Atlantic. And above all, not succumb to apathy, cynicism or despair – that’s the whole strategy for people like Trump and Boris.”