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Published On: Tue, Dec 17th, 2019

The British vote

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United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Thursday surprised everybody, himself inclusive, by leading his Conservative Party to score one of the country’s most dramatic electoral victories in decades.The result, according to political pundits, is a vindication of Johnson’s strategy to campaign on a single promise to “get Brexit done.”

It was a crushing defeat for the opposition Labour Party, whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said he would step down after a “process of reflection.” And the leader of the pro-Remain Liberal Democrat party, Jo Swinson, lost her seat, as the Scottish National Party won handsomely in Scotland.

By Friday afternoon, the Conservatives had secured 365 of the 650 seats in the House of Parliament, well ahead of Labour’s 203 seats. The Liberal Democrats took 11 seats, while the Scottish National Party posted big gains in Scotland, with 48 seats.
The vote has given Johnson a comfortable majority in the House of Commons and paves the way for Brexit to take place at the end of January. “No ifs, no buts,” he said. “We did it,” the PM said at a victory rally on Friday morning. “We broke the deadlock, we smashed the roadblock,” he told a cheering room. “A new dawn rises on a new day. You may only have lent us your vote, you may not consider yourself a natural Tory,” Johnson said. “Your hand may have quivered over the ballot paper before you put your cross in the Conservative box and you may intend to return to Labour next time round. And if that is the case, I am humbled that you have put your trust in me and that you have put your trust in us. I, and we, will never take your support for granted.”
One highlight of the election is that more female MPs won seats in this election than ever before, breaking the previous record of 208 set in 2017. A total of 221 women have been elected. Female Conservative candidates won 86 seats — the most the party has ever had — and more than 50% of Labour MPs are now female. Women, however, still make up just over a third of lawmakers.
The rising number of women in the UK Parliament should inspire Nigerian women politicians to get more actively involved in politics and fight for more elective offices, including the governorship position. At present, the number of women in the 469-strong National Assembly is dismally small – less than 30.
The UK vote has another plus that Nigerian politicians should learn from. It was won and lost just on one issue: Brexit. Both Johnson and Corbyn were uninspiring politicians. They knew that and the contest came down to who was about to explain their position on Brexit better to the voter. Johnson was able to exploit the fears of working class voters in traditional Labour heartland over remaining in the EU to gain 68 votes for his Tory party. Corbyn, on the other hand , failed to manage the Leave-Remain divide to Labour’s advantage.
The specificity of election platforms is the bane of Nigerian politics. The issues our politicians bring to an election are too many and lack clarity. Electioneering often leaves the voter no better informed; often he comes off it more confused. This is why it is important that our politicians study the 2019 vote in the UK general election to see what positives they can pick up to improve the quality of our electoral system.

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