They Just Don’t Get It: The General Election Wasn’t About Leavers and Remainers

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Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.

The 2019 General Election brought in the largest Conservative majority since 1987, killed the painful Brexit debate, the People’s Vote movement, Liberal Democrats, and madcap Blair/Major bromance at the same time. Since the result analysts and psephologists have been aching to identify the latest trends in voter behaviour and explain why, yet again, the polls got it all wrong.

Multiple political observers had, justifiably, assumed that Boris Johnson’s slogan of ‘Get Brexit Done’ would put off Tory Remainers. This is his third successful punchy campaign mantra after he dominated the London mayoral campaign with ‘Better Off With Boris’ and the 2016 EU referendum with ‘Take Back Control’. Over one-third of 2017 Conservative voters supported the Stronger In campaign in 2016. Thus, it was feared that many of these four million would turn to more pointedly Remain parties, like Labour or the Liberal Democrats. This would have denied Johnson his majority, ushering in a Corbyn government and a second referendum through the back door.

As it turned out on Thursday, almost all of these voters stuck with the Tories. The party of government for the past decade managed to gain millions of Labour supporters disillusioned with the hard left, its spending promises, alongside allegations of antisemitism.

The Tories held on to their Remain voters, gained Leave voters, and those from all sides deserted the Labour party in droves. This suggests that factors other than Brexit were at play when the undecideds headed to the polls. Brexit identities, which we are told divide and entrench us, played less of a role in this election than the last.

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Boris Johnson, enthusiastic Brexiteer-turned-statesman, managed to pick up votes from almost every corner of the UK, leaving metropolitan London an outlier in an otherwise Tory country. And he did so almost without mentioning the benefits of the UK’s departure from the EU once. Instead, he sold his position as one which would break the gridlock and fulfil the command from the British people in 2016.

Less than 3% of strong Remainers turned their back on the Tories, and the strongest Remain party of all, the Lib Dems, lost seats. There is only one possible explanation for this: the British people have rejected the Leave and Remain labels which have caused so much tension, and have embraced the supremacy of democracy.

Even for those who fail to see the benefits of casting aside our costly membership of the European Union, the vast majority of voters understand the dangerous precedent set by ignoring a democratic instruction. For three years, voters of all colours have witnessed privileged, entitled politicians tell Leavers that they didn’t know what they were voting for, that they should change their minds and have faith in the mental superiority of the enlightened political class. Even SUSU, taking instructions from under 15% of the student population, bought into the lie that it was a socially acceptable position to cast aside the pillar of democracy that is loser’s consent and campaign for a so-called People’s Vote.

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This election has highlighted the stark difference between graceful and sore losers, and, thank goodness, our democracy has been saved this Christmas by the former, rather than being destroyed by the latter. The undiluted message from the 14,608,868 Conservative and Brexit Party voters was that, regardless of how anybody voted in 2016, it is of the greatest importance that we do not set the precedent of disregarding the voice of the masses.

Any other result last Thursday would have been a national embarrassment and would have disenfranchised the 17 million, many of whom voted for the first time in 2016. Instead, in a single day and with the marking of a ballot, we came together in a collective expression of support for democracy, ended the economic uncertainty, and moved away from the tired Leave and Remain labels. The People’s Vote is dead, Brexit will happen next year, and we should all thank the graceful losers of 2016 who helped to bring us to the end of this long and painful journey.

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