After about a year in the political limbo, Boris Johnson emerged as the Leader of the Conservative party and therefore the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on the 24th of July 2019. His most important appeal, the reason he won, was his promise to take the UK out of the EU by October 31st.
He seems to have delivered, at least partially as he managed to negotiate a Brexit deal with the EU. Its an agreement that even Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission) calls, “a fair and balanced agreement”. On Saturday October 19th, the UK parliament will vote on this deal. Predictions indicate that 259 (conservative) MPs will vote ‘aye’ while 306 (Labour, SNP, DUP, IGC, PC, Green along with 9 independent) MPs will vote ‘No’. This leaves 74 MPs (Hard Conservatives, some labour and independents) up for grabs to reach the magic 320 votes to approve the deal. The outcome of the voting is widely speculated to result in a ‘No’.
However, regardless of the outcome, Boris Johnson will emerge politically victorious. Opinion polling in the UK shows the conservatives leading in the polls by about 9 percentage points (Conservatives 34% vs Labour 25%). The most likely allies of the conservatives, the BP (Brexit Part) is polling at 12% . When asked “Which of the following do you think would make the best Prime Minister?” and offered a choice between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn (leader of Labour), about 43% choose Boris Johnson as opposed to 21% who choose Jeremy Corbyn.
If Saturday’s vote goes through (UK parliament votes to exit the EU), Boris Johnson will be viewed as the leader who got Brexit delivered. If the vote does not go through, Boris Johnson can force a general election and campaign on his efforts in the past few months being stonewalled by the ‘elites’, ‘insiders’ and the ‘establishment’. This most likely will work. Since the referendum, the uncertainty of Brexit has only led to an increase in the resentment of the political process. This culminated in The Brexit Party, a Party that was founded six months before the election, to gain the most seats in the European Elections that occurred in May 2019.
Brexit still has a strong support in the UK. About 42% say that “Britain was right to vote to leave the European Union” as opposed to 47% who say it was wrong. In a protentional second referendum, 45% are projected to vote leave vs 50% who would vote to remain. The margins in these polls show how uncertain and unpredictable opinion on Brexit is.
This is the reason why the Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn, has been so vague on its policy on Brexit or a second referendum. This has allowed the conservatives to capitalise on the uncertainty, to their political advantage. Boris Johnson is a politician who is a master at ‘the charm’ and ‘the spin’ that every politician desires, this will allow him to navigate the political confusion to his advantage.