Conservatives win greatest majority in 32 years; Johnson vows to leave EU

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party racked up a landslide election victory in Parliament, and the leader pledged to leave the European Union by the next deadline of Jan. 31.

Newly re-elected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves to reporters Friday at No.10 Downing Street in London after visiting Queen Elizabeth II. Photo by Hugo Philpott

Conservatives won 47 seats and solidified its ranks with a total of 364 seats in the House of Commons, the party’s greatest majority since 1987 when it was led by Margaret Thatcher.

“Literally before many of you were born,” Johnson told supporters early Friday.

“I will make it my mission to work night and day, flat out to prove that you were right in voting for me this time, and to earn your support in the future,” he added. “The people want change. We cannot and we must not let them down.”

The Scottish National Party finished with 48 and the Liberal Democrats captured 11, representing a net loss of 10 seats.

With just shy of 14 million ballots cast in their name, the Conservatives captured 43.6 percent of the vote share compared to Labor, which garnered 32.2 percent in their worst showing in a British election since 1935.

“We did it! We pulled it off, didn’t we?” Johnson said. “We broke the deadlock, we ended the gridlock, we smashed the roadblock.”

He said the election puts an end to the idea of holding a second referendum on whether Britain should leave the European bloc, and promised Britain would be gone by the next deadline at the end of January.

“This election means that getting Brexit done is now the irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people, and with this election, I think we’ve put an end to all those miserable threats of a second referendum,” he said.

Johnson ran on a platform to finally withdraw the nation from the European Union after years of deadlock and now he has a majority government that all but gives him the support he needs to do just that.

The victory represents a net gain of 66 seats from the previous election for the Conservatives and a net loss of 42 for the Labor Party.

Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who’d hoped to replace Johnson as prime minister, said Thursday night he will resign as the party’s head sometime before the next election, but did not give a precise timetable for departure.

Corbyn said it was “a very disappointing night” and suggested the EU issue took center stage over other critical matters.

U.S. President Donald Trump lauded Johnson for the decisive victory.

“Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after Brexit,” he tweeted. “This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the [European Union]. Celebrate Boris.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison congratulated Johnson on his return to 10 Downing Street, and said he looks forward to “the stability this brings and a new deal” for Australia and Britain.

Voter turnout was high across Britain for what was termed the “most important general election in a generation.” It was the third since 2015 and the fourth in less than a decade.

Johnson called for Thursday’s vote in October after he failed to pass an EU-brokered agreement to leave the bloc, and then campaigned on the theme of “get Brexit done.”

The Liberal Democrats lost their leader, Jo Swinson, when she failed to hold her seat against a challenger in the Scottish National Party. Swinson announced she would quit as party leader when it was confirmed she lost her Dunbartonshire East seat by 149 votes. The party said Deputy Leader Ed Davey and Sal Brinton, the president, would tentatively lead the Liberal Democrats.

The SNP had a big night Thursday, as well, gaining 13 seats to increase its ranks to 48 seats in Parliament. Scotland, where the plan to leave the EU is unpopular, was the lone exception to the Conservative victory wave as the party lost seven seats there.

The electoral results prompted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to call once again for a new vote for independence from Britain after three centuries.

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

Scottish voters soundly defeated an independence referendum vote in 2014.

ByDarryl Coote & Clyde Hughes