Boris Johnson Loses Majority in Parliament

Daniel Szwec | @szewc_daniel

Earlier today, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government lost its effective one-member majority in the House of Commons. The deed was done by Phillip Lee, the Member of Parliament for Bracknell, who decided to leave the Conservative party for the Liberal Democrats after representing the Conservatives for over 27 years.

All of this occurred only moments before a series of important votes and an emergency debate on the topic of the UK’s departure from the European Union. The MP argued that his decision was completely valid on the basis that Boris Johnson’s government “is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit”. Some speculate that this single decision was enough to spike the pound against the dollar. The development could spell trouble for a no-deal Brexit.

What Happens Next?

The British political system is not as cemented as many would believe. Though the ruling Tories held a slim majority of one vote, with the inclusion of the Democratic Unionist Party’s members, the political dynamic is slightly more complex. Despite being publicly risky, the easiest way to regain a majority in the House of Commons by the Tories would be to lift MP Charlie Elphicke’s suspension from the party. Elphicke is being investigated on charges of sexual assault.

Another possible option is that a handful of pro-Brexit Labour MP’s, such as Kate Hoey, could support the government’s efforts to leave the European Union. Labour MP’s from staunchly pro-Brexit constituencies such as Caroline Flint, Melanie Onn, Gareth Snell and Sarah Champion may also face an obligation to follow through with the will of their constituents. If these options fail for the Conservatives due to Jeremy Corbyn garnering support for a vote of no-confidence, then Frank Field, Ian Austin, and John Woodcock could vote in favor of the government; these aforementioned MP’s have left the Labour government in protest to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It is enough for just one of them to support Johnson for him to manage Parliament’s agenda and Brexit.

Can Johnson Achieve Brexit?

Boris Johnson will have to stitch a more complex plan together to keep a majority of 320 members to 319 opposition and bring about Brexit while also retaining power. For this, a general election may have to be called, which by current trends seems to look better for the Conservatives than for Labour.

Boris Johnson is polling at growing numbers nation-wide, with his public image being consistently viewed as better than that of Jeremy Corbyn. According to YouGov, 52% of Britons believe the incumbent Prime Minister to be a strong leader. In contrast, only 14% believe that this is a trait that characterizes Jeremy Corbyn. This trend can also be seen with twice as many Brits viewing the PM as “likable” than Corbyn. Boris Johnson already has great experience at stirring masses to his favor, as could be seen with his former role as the Mayor of London, which he won despite being a Conservative candidate in an extremely socially liberal city. According to all data available, Boris Johnson is quite likely to win the next general election, unless a black swan event is to occur.

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