The Conservatives have won a landslide majority in the British parliament in a snap election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who campaigned on the promise to “get Brexit done.”
Johnson’s party has taken 362 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, up by 47 on the 2017 election, with just four constituencies left to declare early Friday.
The main opposition Labour Party has 203 seats after losing several dozen to the Conservatives in their traditional strongholds in northern and central England, where many voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.
Preliminary vote shares released by the BBC placed the Conservatives at 43.6 per cent, in what would be the strongest result for any British party in decades.
Labour is thought to have garnered 32.3 per cent of Thursday’s vote.
The party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who campaigned on a socialist platform and vowed to hold a second Brexit referendum, said he does not plan to lead Labour into another general election.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) boosted its presence in the national parliament with 48 winning candidates declared so far, a 13-seat gain.
It was a disappointing night for the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, who failed to boost their seat share following a number of defections from the Conservative party.
The Liberal Democrats currently have 11 seats declared.
Their leader, Jo Swinson, lost in the Scottish constituency of East Dunbartonshire by just 149 votes to an SNP candidate, blaming the outcome on a “wave of nationalism” in Scotland and England.
A party statement carried by the PA news agency and other media later announced that she would step down as party leader.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence, after a majority voted against it in 2014.
“I accept that Boris Johnson after this election has a mandate to take England out of the European Union, but he does not have a mandate to take Scotland out of the European Union,” she told the BBC.
“And I have a mandate, a renewed, refreshed, strengthened mandate to offer people in Scotland the choice of a different future,” Sturgeon said, adding that by Christmas she would formally request the power to hold a second vote.
This puts her on a collision course with Johnson, who has ruled out any fresh independence referendum in Scotland.
“This one-nation Conservative government has been given a powerful mandate to get Brexit done,” he said after winning re-election to his parliamentary seat in west London.
The “historic” election will allow the government to “respect the democratic will of the people,” he said, referring to the 52 per cent who voted for Brexit in 2016.
Turnout was down slightly on the previous general election in 2017 at 67.2 per cent, according to the BBC.
U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson on his “great WIN” in a tweet.
“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 EU.”
Johnson, who has promised that Britain will leave the EU on January 31, plans to negotiate liberal post-Brexit trade deals with the United States and other non-EU nations.
Jo Swinson, who led the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats’ election campaign, is stepping down as leader after losing her seat in Britain’s general election, a party statement says.
“The Liberal Democrats have this morning confirmed that Ed Davey MP and Baroness Sal Brinton will become the joint acting leaders of the Liberal Democrats,” the statement, carried by the PA news agency and other media, said.
“A leadership election will take place in the new year.”
Brinton praised Swinson, who lost out to an SNP candidate in the Scottish constituency of East Dunbartonshire by 149 votes, for her “honest and fearless leadership.”
Britain’s anti-Brexit Liberal Democrat party named lawmaker Jo Swinson as its new leader in July, as the party looked to translate a surge in voter support for its pro-European Union agenda into influence in a deadlocked parliament.
Her nomination came a day before Britain’s governing Conservatives were expected to name Boris Johnson as leader and prime minister – a man who had pledged to take the country out of the EU on Oct. 31 “do or die”.
But, the future of Brexit hung in the balance, without a clear majority in parliament behind Johnson and deep division over how, when, and even if, Britain should follow through on its 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU.
Swinson, the party’s first female leader, had built her campaign around cementing the Liberal Democrats as the rallying point for those from across the traditional political spectrum who are opposed to Brexit.
“We believe the UK’s best future is as members of the European Union, and that’s why, as your leader, I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit,” she said.