- - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Boris Johnson’s large majority in the U.K. elections is the biggest win by any Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher, but he did it standing on the shoulders of the man who walked away with nothing, Nigel Paul Farage. 

It was the Conservative Party that first took the U.K. into the European Economic Community in 1973 and sought ever closer integration until very recently, so it is quite extraordinary that it is now solely reaping this Brexit dividend.

Mr. Johnson only decided he was a Brexiteer back in 2016, while Mr. Farage has campaigned to leave ever since the Conservatives signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 that created the current EU, having ousted its arch-dissenter Margaret Thatcher to do so. 

Even in recent times, David Cameron tried to stop Brexit, and he was succeeded by another Remainer-Tory, Theresa May, who almost messed it up. Then came Boris.

There is something brutally Darwinian about the British electoral system of first-past-the-post that guarantees only the Conservatives or Labor can win, at least in England and Wales.

For many Leavers, although their hearts told them to vote for The Brexit Party, their heads knew that voting Tory under Boris Johnson was the only realistic way of getting Brexit passed. 

Mr. Farage’s supporters learned that the hard way in the 2015 election. Even though nearly 4 million people voted for his UKIP party, they only had one MP elected. By contrast, in Scotland, less than half as many votes gave the Nationalists 56 MPs.

This recent general election was treated by just about everyone as a second Brexit referendum. Indeed, for Leave voters, it was much better than a second ballot which might have split the Leave vote by offering both “Deal” and “No-deal” as options. 

Better still for Leavers and the Conservatives, this election saw the Remain vote divided between the Liberal Democrats’ “Bollocks to Brexit” policy or having a second referendum with a Marxist economy thrown in from Labor.

Nigel Farage further facilitated a Conservative victory by withdrawing the Brexit Party in 317 Tory seats and only putting candidates in Labor strongholds. 

The Tories didn’t reciprocate, and this bold decision saw them winning some unlikely seats in Labor areas and prevented any Brexit Party MPs being elected in others — a double whammy.

Boris Johnson was honest enough in his victory speech to concede that many people had only loaned him their votes to get Brexit done. 

The U.K. now moves on to phase two Brexit negotiations with the EU over Boris’ deal, which Mr. Farage calls, “a half-baked loaf.”

Support for Brexit lies mainly in England and Wales. Scotland’s results showed a strong desire to remain in the EU, leading to demands for another independence referendum.

Mr. Johnson also faces serious problems in Northern Ireland following plans to make the Irish Sea the new customs’ border for the EU. This idea was conceived to prevent a hard EU border between Northern and Southern Ireland inflaming old tensions. 

However, this puts Northern Ireland on the EU side and so any tariffs would have to be paid to Brussels and then reclaimed if the goods stay in the North. Goods going to the U.K. will also have to prove they came from the North.

The Province’s precarious future under this arrangement led to the Democratic Unionist Party losing its majority and gains for Sinn Fein Republicans. Voters there mainly want to stay in the U.K. and the EU, which is not going to be possible for much longer.

President Trump seems confident that an Anglo-American trade deal can still be signed, despite his previous misgivings. It depends on the U.K. improving its existing terms with the EU. A no-deal exit is also still possible up to the end of 2020.

As Mr. Johnson welcomes his new MPs and new cabinet ministers, he has some big decisions to make. 

Will he look for a more comprehensive deal with the EU to reassure Remainers and to encourage Scotland to stay in the Union, but which might make signing bilateral trade deals more difficult and increase the concerns of Northern Ireland Unionists?

Or, with his new majority will he make greater demands to the EU? One of which could be to tell Brussels that if they insist on a hard customs border in Ireland, they can build it on their side. There is also the matter of the nearly $51 billion settlement.

And what of Mr. Farage? 

The Brexit Party may have reached its end, but he has already registered a new name, The Reform Party, and he is keen to continue to pressure the Conservative Party to honor the Brexit mandate to the letter.

Whatever happens, Nigel Farage should be universally acknowledged as the main instigator of Brexit. He is also the most selfless politician to emerge in recent British politics.

• Andrew Davies is a U.K.-based video producer and scriptwriter.

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