Saturday May 30th, 2020 12:18AM

Boris Johnson lost Parliament but he could win a UK election

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost Parliament. But he could still win a general election if enough voters approve of his determination to make Britain's departure from the European Union a reality.

The U.K. leader who took office in July failed spectacularly in his first encounter with Parliament, losing six important votes before suspending the legislature for an unexpected five weeks during a crucial period in Britain's political life. He was unable to convince enough lawmakers to back his call for an early national election, which he hoped would give him a more pliant group of lawmakers.

Despite his inability to get a general election set for mid-October — Parliament voted him down twice on that score — most observers think an early election is now inevitable, in part because Johnson's Conservative Party has lost its working majority in the House of Commons and no longer has enough votes to pass legislation.

Parliament is now suspended — or prorogued — until Oct. 14, but once its session resumes, most scenarios lead to a cross-party agreement to hold an early election that would test Johnson's popularity outside Parliament's Gothic halls in London. Right now the next British election is not scheduled until 2022.

Under a master plan hatched in part by top adviser Dominic Cummings, who played a key role directing pro-Brexit forces during the 2016 referendum campaign on EU membership, Johnson and his team would hope to cast the election as a "people versus Parliament" vote.

In this screenplay, the people — represented by Johnson and his Conservative Party candidates — are the good guys intent on implementing the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum that saw British voters, by a 4% margin, choose to leave the EU. Johnson's Conservative party has been to a large degree purged of moderates who did not share his willingness to countenance a "no-deal" Brexit divorce from the EU and all the economic risks that entails.

Parliament and opposition parties, meanwhile, will be cast as villains determined to thwart the will of the people with endless delays.

The prime minister, well aware that many voters are tired of the whole thing, claims he doesn't want an election but sees it as the only way to make Brexit happen. He can blame the current Parliament for tying his hands with its legislation blocking his ability to pull off a "no-deal" Brexit on Oct. 31, and say the legislators are determined to overturn the Brexit referendum because they don't like the results.

This "us versus them" scenario that Johnson's team is hoping to capitalize on borrows from U.S. President Donald Trump's "drain the swamp" approach, which helped him win the presidency in 2016.

It is too early to predict with clarity what shape a British election would take, since there are too many unknowns, especially about what coalitions could be formed. A key question is whether Johnson will seek an alliance with Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, which could unite Brexit backers.

The two teamed up successfully during the 2016 referendum campaign, both touting the idea that leaving the EU would give Britain back control of its laws and borders. Farage is a single-issue politician who was more willing than Johnson to blame immigrants for some of Britain's problems.

John Curtice, a polling expert with the University of Strathclyde, said Johnson could form a winning coalition with Farage if he is unable to wring concessions from the EU and decides to openly embrace a "no-deal" Brexit as his stated goal.

"If he does a deal with Farage, and comes out in favor of 'no-deal' and Farage is ready to deal with him, that creates the potential of a winning coalition but contains the risk of splitting his own party," Curtice said.

He added that Johnson could also possibly win by getting a deal with the EU that wins parliamentary backing and woos Brexit Party voters back into the Conservative fold.

"He's got two routes, neither of which is easy," Curtice said.

Johnson will need to win the backing of disgruntled voters tempted to vote for candidates like Jonathan Bullock, the Brexit Party's standard bearer in the pro-Brexit stronghold of Boston in eastern England.

"Parliament has completely let us down," Bullock said, claiming the current legislature is full of "remainers" who are determined to stall Brexit indefinitely. He backs the call for a general election but isn't sure about Johnson.

"Boris says the right thing, but can you trust him?" Bullock said. "The one person you can trust is Nigel Farage, who has been consistently right about this all along. He said that the establishment would try to stop Brexit, and he's been absolutely right."

Johnson's team also believes he can capitalize on the opposition Labour Party's left-wing tilt under leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is a divisive figure for many voter. Just as Johnson has alienated some Conservative moderates, Corbyn has lost the backing of some longtime Labour figures who are turned off by his doctrinaire approach.

But Johnson faces a potentially effective informal opposition coalition that would bring together Labour, which under Corbyn has not taken a clear position on Brexit but is opposed to a "no-deal" divorce, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists, which are both strongly opposed to Brexit and smaller regional parties.

These groups banded together to block Johnson's bid for an immediate election, but it's not clear if they could bury past rivalries and find common ground in a longer campaign.


Associated Press writer Jill Lawless contributed.


Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at:

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: 12 killed in Iraq during Ashoura procession
Iraqi security officials say at least 12 people have been killed when part of a walkway collapsed during Ashoura commemorations in the Shiite holy city of Karbala
9:12AM ( 4 minutes ago )
The Latest: Slovenia police find 46 migrants in van, forest
Police in northeastern Slovenia say 40 migrants were discovered packed inside a van and another six who couldn't fit inside the vehicle were found in a forest nearby
9:03AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Boris Johnson lost Parliament but he could win a UK election
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost Parliament but he still could win a UK election
9:02AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Officials defend plan to end govt control of Fannie, Freddie
Trump administration officials to go before Congress to defend their plan for ending government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance companies that nearly collapsed and were bailed out at a cost to taxpayers of $187 billion
8:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
N Carolina special election tests Trump, 2020 GOP prospects
Republicans hope an 11th-hour rally with President Donald Trump will boost them to a special election victory in a GOP-friendly House district in North Carolina, where Dan Bishop faces Dan McCready
7:43AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump tells rally crowd: Vote for Bishop in special election
President Donald Trump says North Carolina's special House election is the right vehicle to send a message to Democrats
7:37AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
NRA sues San Francisco over terrorist declaration
The National Rifle Association has sued San Francisco over that city's recent declaration that the gun-rights lobby is a "domestic terrorist organization."
11:53PM ( 9 hours ago )
California closer to letting college athletes make money
The California Assembly has passed a bill aimed at paying college athletes, setting up a confrontation with the NCAA that could jeopardize the athletic futures of powerhouse programs like USC, UCLA and Stanford
11:51PM ( 9 hours ago )
PG&E plan offers billions to victims, others after wildfires
PG&E Corp. offers nearly $18 billion to settle claims from devastating wildfires in Northern California started by company equipment
9:48PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Trump says peace talks with Taliban are now 'dead'
President Donald Trump says that as far as he's concerned, Afghanistan peace talks with the Taliban are dead
12:23AM ( 8 hours ago )
At rally, Trump paints bleaks picture of Democratic control
President Donald Trump's rally in North Carolina was more than just a measure of his clout in trying to elect a Republican to a key House seat
8:41PM ( 12 hours ago )
Sarah Palin's husband appears to be seeking a divorce
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband appears to be seeking a divorce from his wife of 31 years
7:12PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Elections
Plan for Taliban meeting latest bold Trump gamble to unravel
Trump's weekend tweet canceling secret meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and Afghan leaders is the latest example of a president willing to take a big risk in pursuit of a foreign policy victory only to see it dashed
6:20AM ( 1 day ago )
Harris seeks end to executions, cash bail, private prisons
In criminal justice plan, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris calls for abolishing death penalty, ending cash bail, eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing
6:10AM ( 1 day ago )
Ex-SC Gov. Sanford adds name to GOP long shots against Trump
Mark Sanford, the ex-South Carolina governor and congressman, is making a long shot Republican challenge to President Donald Trump, and aiming to put his Appalachian trail travails behind him for good as he tries to navigate a path to the presidency
5:13AM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Hurricane survivors struggle to start new life in Bahamas
Thousands of hurricane survivors are filing off boats and planes in the capital of the Bahamas, facing the need to start new lives after Hurricane Dorian but with little ideas on how or where to begin
8:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
Irishman set to lead EU trade talks with UK, US
The incoming president of the European Union's powerful executive arm has nominated Irishman Phil Hogan to lead future EU trade talks, which could put him in charge of negotiations with Britain after Brexit and with the United States
6:43AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Greece arrests 2 for migrant smuggling
Greece's coast guard says it has seized a sailing boat and arrested two people on suspicion of trying to smuggle 37 migrants to Italy
6:29AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
The Latest: Mercedes shows off sleek electric concept car
Daimler's Mercedes-Benz is showing off a long, sleek battery-powered concept vehicle that could join the luxury carmaker's model lineup alongside its S-Class flagship sedans
8:23AM ( 53 minutes ago )
The Latest: Ford plans big push into electrics in Europe
Ford Motor Co. says that more than half of its European sales will be electric-powered by 2022 as it unveils a premium model of its Puma crossover that uses recovered braking energy to boost acceleration
6:31AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: VW says it has scale to make electrics succeed
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess says his company's massive scale will enable it to make profits on large numbers of affordable electric cars it aims to sell in the next several years
5:53AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Slovenia police find 46 migrants in van, forest
Police in northeastern Slovenia say 40 migrants were discovered packed inside a van and another six who couldn't fit inside the vehicle were found in a forest nearby
9:03AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Focus in Georgia shifts to salvaging huge capsized ship
After the rescue at sea of four crewmembers trapped in a capsized cargo ship near a Georgia island, the U.S. Coast Guard says it's now focused on safety removing the vessel while protecting the environment
8:52AM ( 24 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump calls NC vote 1st step to removing Pelosi
President Donald Trump is urging North Carolina voters to "take the first steps" toward removing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
8:50AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Irishman set to lead EU future trade talks with UK, US
The incoming president of the European Union's powerful executive arm has nominated Irishman Phil Hogan to lead future EU trade talks, which could put him in charge of negotiations with Britain after Brexit and with the United States
8:46AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Atwood's 'The Testaments' returns to Gilead, with hype
Margaret Atwood often gets asked if "The Testaments," her follow-up to "The Handmaid's Tale," is set in a dystopian world
8:39AM ( 38 minutes ago )