How Boris Johnson Won a Sweeping Majority in UK Election
Was Boris Johnson’s win on Thursday wholly attributable to Britain’s Brexit fiasco or did antisemitism come into play as well?
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a landslide victory over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party on Thursday night with an expected 75-seat majority for his Conservative party, giving him the power to end three years of political stalemate and take Britain out of the European Union.
The Brexit Factor
Some commentators attributed Boris Johnson’s win and Labour’s astounding defeat to Labour’s ambivalent position on Brexit, which would have delayed the process for a second referendum. Johnson’s party flipped many long-held Labour seats that backed Brexit in 2016.
“From here in London, people I’ve talked to so far just shake their heads in disappointment,” Beth Milford, a British citizen who lives in London, told Citizen Truth about the election. “It feels hopeless really and I think everyone is just so sick of Brexit, they want some sort of arrangement already.”
But while discontent with the European Union has pushed many British citizens to support Brexit, critics like journalist Lee Fang are concerned that a Brexit deal could serve as a “corporate Trojan horse.”
“British voters think Brexit will simply restore national sovereignty, limit migration and restore local control,” tweeted Fang. “The hard Brexit trade negotiations w/the US show lobbyists are seeking to use it as a backdoor for more corporate power & less consumer rights.”
Criticism of the Conservatives’ austerity policies pushed Johnson to pledge more money for public services in his five-year term, but leaked documents highlighted by Corbyn last month that show trade negotiations between officials from the Trump administration, industry, and U.K. trade representatives have raised fears that the National Health Institute (NHS) could be privatized by Johnson’s party.
“Mega-corporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country,” said Corbyn. “And if the Conservatives have their way and this deal goes forward, the changes I’ve revealed will be almost irreversible.”
Corbyn’s Accusations Of Antisemitism Likely Fuel Boris Johnson Win
Another factor that contributed to Labour’s resounding defeat is Corbyn’s personal unpopularity and allegations that he is antisemitic, which critics like journalist Aaron Maté dismiss as “a relentless and unprecedented smear campaign by the UK political/media establishment (cheered on by their allies in the Trump admin & US neoliberals) that Corbyn is an anti-Semite/Russian dupe.”
Maté’s claim is supported by a report last week from former Financial Times journalist Matt Kennard, which found that “officials in the UK military and intelligence establishment have been sources for at least 34 major national media stories that cast Jeremy Corbyn as a danger to British security,” the basis of “440 articles in the UK press since September 2015 specifically mentioning Corbyn as a ‘threat to national security.’”
Kennard notes that the evidence suggests that intelligence officials were supplying secret documents to journalists in “what appears to be a campaign,” a violation of the “constitutional principle” of non-involvement in politics that intelligence services and the military are supposed to honor.
The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz argues that the press attention focused on Corbyn’s alleged anti-semitism, which is based on his association with political figures who are anti-semitic, reflects a cynical ploy to smear the leftist leader rather than a genuine concern about bigotry. Schwarz argues that while Corbyn should be more careful about who he associates with, the same “guilty by association” reasoning applied to the Labour leader would make the vast majority of Western leaders anti-semitic, but politicians who are close to countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE get a free pass:
“Yet it hardly needs to be said that the Saudi government-controlled media has long been a sewer of anti-Semitism. Arab Radio and Television of Saudi Arabia notoriously produced “Horseman Without a Horse,” a multi-part series that treated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as historical fact. Saudi censors have blocked the website of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. For its part, the UAE is (according to Anti-Defamation League polling) one of the 10 most anti-Semitic countries on earth.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson won Thursday despite many brazenly racist remarks throughout his career, from calling black people “picaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” to referring to African children who welcomed Johnson’s visit with a song as “little AIDs-ridden choristers.”
Beyond Johnson, the pro-independence Scottish National Party was another big winner of the night, taking 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats. “The SNP wants another independence referendum,” reported Axios. “While Scotland voted to remain in the U.K. in 2014, it also voted overwhelmingly against Brexit — leading to speculation the result would be different this time.”
The centrist Liberal Democrats, who campaigned on stopping Brexit, also suffered a crushing defeat, with even party leader Jo Swinson failing to win her own seat.