December 13, 2019

Brexit Rewrites U.K.’s Political Map
(Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.British Prime Boris Johnson’s message to voters was simple and repetitive. On the campaign trail he would thunder, hair often askew and fists pumping, that the U.K. simply must “Get Brexit Done.” Doing so would allow everything else, including fixing problems at home with healthcare, to follow.For Britons exhausted from more than three years of arguing over the divorce from the European Union, of seeing parliament gridlocked and seemingly doing very little governing, of seeing lawmakers snarl at each other and families fighting over dinner tables, it was enough. Voters are set to give Johnson a clear majority in parliament and a clear mandate.Even if they did not want Brexit, they wanted the madness to end. And for those who did want Brexit — including many in the opposition Labour Party — Johnson was the best bet to get it through.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s combination of populism-socialism failed to resonate, even in a country tired of austerity and worried about jobs and access to services. That’s a warning to parties outside the U.K. that tacking hard to the left may not work. Instead, voters opted for someone they thought had the sheer force of personality to get things done.It won’t be easy sailing for Johnson, though. There’s a long road still ahead on Brexit. Up in Scotland, talk of independence is resonating again. And he has to try and bring together a nation that is arguably more polarized than ever by the debate about its future.Global HeadlinesLeaving is not leaving | Brexit is only the start. Johnson needs a trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020 and the transition period — during which time almost all EU rules will still apply — may prove tricky. If he wants access to the bloc’s single market he’ll have to give up control in areas like taxation. Party hard-liners may object to that and push for a clean break at the end of the year.Johnson must also grapple with an economy that’s far from full strength, and turning it around will require more than just ramping up spending. Read here for more.Labour rout | Corbyn says he’ll step down — when a successor is chosen. “Tonight is an absolute disaster for the Labour Party,” lawmaker Ian Murray told the BBC. The party is predicted to lose 61 seats in its fourth-straight election defeat. The vote that was supposed to be all about Brexit turned into a referendum on Corbyn, a 70-year-old socialist. He was unpopular on the doorstep, his campaign was incoherent and policy promises were not credible, one official said. And he was hurt by accusations of anti-Semitism in Labour ranks.Key seats | It was a night of surprises. Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson lost her seat. The Tories took some districts from Labour as former industrial areas of northern England and Wales abandoned the party for the first time in generations (these were mining and steel towns that suffered mass unemployment under the Conservatives in the 1980s). Support for the pro-independence Scottish National Party surged. You can keep track of seat results via this link. With the Tories’ former Democratic Unionist Party allies losing their leverage in parliament, public pressure may build too in Northern Ireland for a referendum to join the Republic of Ireland amid fears Johnson’s Brexit deal will damage the province’s economy.European relief | EU leaders have been meeting in Brussels to discuss new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s so-called “Green deal” on greenhouse gas emissions. But they were no doubt also watching the election closely, and there will be palpable sighs of relief. That’s not because they want Brexit to happen. But as Ian Wishart explains in this piece written before the election, there is a collective desire to turn the page and avoid further paralysis on the issue.In other news | Donald Trump signed off on a phase-one trade deal with China, averting the Dec. 15 introduction of new tariffs on about $160 billion of consumer goods from the Asian nation. The deal presented to the U.S. president includes a promise by the Chinese to buy more agricultural goods, say people familiar with the details.Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee plans today to approve articles of impeachment against Trump, despite objections and amendments from the panel’s Republican members. A full House vote is tentatively planned for Wednesday.What to WatchBritish lawmakers return to Parliament next week. There will also be a speech by the Queen setting out the program of Johnson’s government.Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.And finally … It was a rainy and windy day across most of the U.K. for an election that was for once held in the winter. That didn’t stop voters bring out their pets for the walk to the nearest polling station. Catching attention on Twitter was the hashtag dogsatpollingstations, which saw people upload pictures of their pets waiting outside, some wearing Christmas jackets or hats. At least one dissenter posted a picture of an unamused-looking cat. And in Somerset there appeared to be a pair of reindeer parked out the front. \--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter and Anthony Halpin.To contact the author of this story: Rosalind Mathieson in London at rmathieson3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Karl Maier at kmaier2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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