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Nigel Hastilow: Well, thank God that’s all over and done with

By Nigel Hastilow | Nigel Hastilow | Published:

Well thank God that’s over and done with – it’s not the end of the arguments about Brexit but it is the beginning of the end, or at least the end of the beginning.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog, Dilyn, after casting his vote in the 2019 General Election

We can all sit back and enjoy a happy Christmas without having to be badgered, beaten, bullied and browbeaten by incompetent politicians and grandstanding journalists.

The election is over and the outcome is clear. Boris Johnson has won his outright majority and we can expect stable Government without the constant shenanigans of parliamentary plots and ploys.

We will see if Boris actually succeeds in getting us finally separated from the European Union by the end of next year, as promised. But this morning there really does seem to be some light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of Brexit politics.

It’s not necessarily the new dawn and the sunlit uplands Boris might be promising, but it has to be better than the alternative ‘coalition of chaos’ threatened by Jeremy Corbyn’s extreme socialists and the Scottish Nationalists.

This election has been such hard work for us, the innocent bystanders, as we watch and listen to our would-be leaders trying to out-bid each other and out-bribe us all with their frankly false and utterly unbelievable promises.

If Labour had won power and attempted forcibly to convert the British economy to the sort of socialism no longer practised outside Venezuela, it would have taken a matter of months for financial collapse to overwhelm us all.

Happily, the collective wisdom of the British people saw through Mr Corbyn’s rash and ridiculous promises and firmly rejected the most left-wing Labour leader ever (so far).

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Rather like Shadow Health Secretary John Ashworth, the voters realised Mr Corbyn was a liability to his party and the country. Mr Corbyn will have to spend more time with his Brussels sprouts now. ‘Magic grandpa’ lost his appeal as he was exposed as a man who was prepared to lie about anything, even whether he watches the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day.

The Labour Party as we knew it is more or less dead, though. Mr Corbyn’s job will probably go, short-term, to John McDonnell, Stalin to Jezza’s Lenin, and he will fix things to ensure a hard-left succession.

This morning’s result may have killed off the Labour Party in all but name. The party of the working class has become a middle class, metropolitan Remainer enclave.

It has certainly created a huge opportunity for a re-alignment of centre-left politics.
The Liberal Democrats ought to be the beneficiaries but in these polarised political times, the voters have avoided the middle-ground.

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Jo Swinson made two big mistakes. The first was to claim she would become the next Prime Minister, an entirely implausible idea. Her second, much more damaging, error was to commit the Lib-Dems to remaining in the EU without even bothering with a second referendum. This was so anti-democratic even many fervent Remainers were dismayed.

Ambiguity

It shut out any possibility a middle-of-the-road party might attract moderate Brexiteers or undecided voters. It was an even more dim-witted policy than most of Labour’s expensive Christmas baubles and Ms Swinson has been rightly punished for her rejection of democracy.

Boris Johnson insisted this was the Brexit election and he has succeeded in making sure the issue which has dominated our politics for the past three years stayed at the forefront of the campaign.

Many of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU and have been furious and frustrated ever since the referendum were prepared to abandon traditional party loyalties to vote – once again – for the policy that was first decided on in June 2016.

Mr Corbyn’s stance was as fatal as Ms Swinson’s. Boris promised to ‘get Brexit done’ while the Labour leader promised some sort of new deal followed by a second referendum in which he would not campaign for either side.

This wasn’t so much the wisdom of a true statesman as the ambiguity of the French revolutionary who said: “There go my people, I am their leader, I must follow them.”

Boris Johnson polarises opinion in much the same way as the issue he is most identified with. Many do not trust him, including people who voted for him yesterday.

At best, people see him as the ‘lovable rogue’ identified by a Channel 4 focus group of West Midlands voters who were abandoning Labour to vote Conservative for the first time.

Mr Johnson has achieved a stunning victory. He says the aim now is to ‘get Brexit done’ and move onto all the other issues which concern the voters.

Brexit will stay in the headlines for months to come but the people have spoken unambiguously we will finally start to leave the EU.

The voters have delivered Mr Johnson his majority – now he must play Father Christmas and deliver for the voters.

Nigel Hastilow

By Nigel Hastilow

Express & Star columnist

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