Where Now?

Boris Johnson has returned as Prime Minister with an 80 seat majority, the biggest majority since New Labour. But what will this mean for Britain? Currently, we are on course to formally leave the European Union at 11pm on the 31st of January but what comes after that and where will the country be at the next election in 2024?

This election was Boris Johnson’s to lose as it was about whether he could get the majority he desperately needed to get his Brexit deal through the Commons. Johnson has wanted an election for a while now as the Conservative Party was reliant on the DUP’s support of their Brexit policy and Parliament repeatedly voted against the deals put forward. He’s got his majority now and we’re leaving the EU. But after this there are so many roads that we could head down. Will we get the vacuous clown that was in charge of London from 2008 to 2016, with his wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on failed projects such as the Garden Bridge scheme? Or will we get a Prime Minister that doesn’t hog the limelight and lets his policies do the talking? 

So far, there is not much policy that has been put forward to pass a fair judgement. While the Prime Minister has been criticised during the recent Iran crisis for being absent and letting ministers speak on his behalf, his government was not afraid to intervene and save Flybe from extinction, Britain’s largest domestic airline, and therefore saving nearly two and a half thousand jobs. Despite heavy criticism from environmental groups and Flybe rivals, this was absolutely the right thing to do.

 We are no cheerleaders for Boris Johnson and his past history is disheartening, to say the least. However, he has the next 5 years to prove us wrong and show us what he can do now that he has the mandate that he desired.  

Labour have suffered their worst electoral defeat since 1935 – and there is no sugarcoating this. Some have blamed an election centred on Brexit with muddled Labour policies. Others have stated that it was Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle that are solely to blame and led Labour to this catastrophic defeat. Whatever the reason, Labour now enters a prolonged leadership election that reaches the existential core of the Labour Party and what it stands for.

Labour has lost its ‘Red Wall’ and with it it has lost the long neglected areas of the North and the Midlands, many of which voted for Brexit in 2016. But this election was about so much more than Brexit. The leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has caused Labour problems from the get go. Whether it be the handling (or lack thereof) on Anti-semitism, or concerns about defence and foreign policy, the Corbyn years can hardly be called Golden Years for Labour. The policies put forward in the 2019 manifesto were generally good but there were just too many of them and the electorate didn’t trust Labour to deliver them. It has often felt like Labour has been trying to prove itself to be a strong government-in-waiting but in reality they have behaved more like a protest group, with deep internal divides. 

It is in all our interests to have a strong Labour Party, whether it has been in opposition holding the Tories to account, or in government making a positive difference to people’s lives. This is why the leadership election matters. The main candidates- Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey- have the opportunity to make Labour into a force that can win elections, get into power and improve peoples’ lives. We believe that Keir Starmer is the person to do this. He is clearly positioning himself as a Social-Democrat, who  is about creating unity within the party but also distancing himself enough from the Corbyn-project to move forward. Rebecca Long-Bailey, while trying to carve her own path separate from Corbyn, it is clear that she is his natural successor, giving him a 10/10 score on his leadership. We believe that Labour need to change course and pivot away from Corbyn. It’s not much use to say that Labours’ policies were popular among the general public if they didn’t actually end up voting for them.

Brexit is happening and the argument for a Second Referendum has fallen apart. We are still in two camps- Leavers and Remainers- but after January 31st we need to decide whether we leave these groups in the past or whether we carry them with us and let them influence where we go next. We believe that the only way we can move forward as a more united and tolerant nation, is to accept our future and try and get the best relationship with the EU, for everyone in the UK. If Brexit has taught us anything it is that for too long people up and down the country have felt left behind and we simply cannot let this continue. 

For two people who would broadly call ourselves liberal, the election result was a terrible one. But we also accept that the future that Labour and other opposition parties offered was simply not good enough for many people in the UK, and this needs to change. All that we can ask is for the next five years to be more positive and harmonious than the last five years. As a country we’ve been dragged through the dirt, and now we need to dust ourselves off and make sure that wherever we go next is better than where we’ve been.

Concourse is Keele University’s independent student-run publication and has a long history of promoting student journalism. Having been established in 1964, Concourse has become an important part of the university and has been read by generations of Keelites.

Follow me on Twitter

More Stories
KeeleCast Election 2019- Episode 3- Dr Jon Parker