A POLITICAL phenomenon – that is the only way to describe the size, and scale, of Boris Johnson’s victory after his General Election gamble paid off and broke the Brexit logjam.
He is probably the only Tory politician who could have persuaded sufficient working class voters in some of Yorkshire and the North’s most deprived communities to vote for him in such numbers.
And while this is not new – he previously defied electoral gravity on two occasions to become mayor of London – the Tories won seats in areas that have never previously voted Conservative.
A clear triumph for ‘brand Boris’, more so given that this unexpected 80-seat win comes at the end of a decade of austerity, there will also be relief that such a convincing majority paves the way for Britain to finally leave the European Union.
Yet, while Mr Johnson’s entire premiership will be defined by his ‘get Brexit done’ mantra, it is to be hoped that he attaches just as much importance to his desire to lead a ‘One Nation Government’ – a theme that he repeatedly referenced in his Downing Street speech.
Now he has a personal mandate to match the prestige of his office, Mr Johnson can prove his ‘One Nation’ credentials by insisting that every policy reform will be judged by their potential to confront regional inequalities, narrow the North-South divide and address neglected issues like social care.
That change of emphasis, coupled with a promise to be more humble towards his opponents, and heal Brexit wounds, might help reach out to those not reassured by his unorthodoxy and obfuscation on issues pertaining to trust – a state of mind which explains why Mr Johnson’s win was not greeted with wide acclaim.
The Prime Minister was clearly helped by the dismal showing of Labour and the Lib Dems, both of whom will be unable to provide the type of opposition and scrutiny that enhances decision-making and the country’s governance.
After presiding over Labour’s worst electoral performance since the war, Jeremy Corbyn must go now for the sake of his party – and his country.
By staying on, presumably to ‘fix’ the succession, he risks making matters even worse after voters decided he was a threat to security and the economy.
Equally, the Lib Dems now need to decide their purpose and mission after their leader Jo Swinson suffered a humiliating defeat – she totally blew her chance to reshape the centre ground of British politics.
This explains why the biggest opposition to Mr Johnson will come from the Scottish Nationalists as they renew their call for a second referendum on independence after making 13 gains north of the border.
Yet, while this does, potentially, pose a risk to the United Kingdom, the best possible riposte is for Boris Johnson to now prove himself as a transformative One Nation leader who can make Brexit work for all and convert snappy slogans into substantive polices.
If he achieves this, he can, potentially, look forward – events permitting – to a prolonged period of dominance now that the only politician on first name terms with the people is back in 10 Downing Street.