Finally, a clear sign from the other side of the Channel. Britain has overwhelmingly voted for Boris Johnson and his promise to Get Brexit Done. It has essentially run an overdue referendum on Brexit, based on the transparent, oven-ready deal negotiated between Johnson and the EU. The Remain camp is in shatters and nobody can claim anymore that the population would lean to staying in the EU if they would only know the details of the deal. The unofficial people’s vote on Brexit is loud and clear and King BoJo will deliver. The tiring Brexit limbo will soon be history, as will be the membership of the UK in the European Union. Without the stubborn Scots and the looming risk to the Union, the election triumph would have been unmatched. Whether UK, EU or US: all will be relieved that after nearly 4 years of confusing holding patterns there is a clear path forward to landing a British exit from the EU on January 31, 2020. But the UK election result is also good news for Donald Trump on the other side of the Atlantic. Next to a welcome distraction from nasty impeachment headlines, he can definitely laud himself for being one of the early promotors of Boris Johnson and for having acquired a new member of the chaotic brotherhood of narcissist world leaders.
While the next steps in the Brexit process seem to be clear for now and welcome, it has to be seen how the British public will cope in the coming months with a Prime Minister whose character did not change with the election and whose personal flaws have been widely discussed. It can be assumed that emboldened by the election victory and copying the success pattern of the big brother from the US, Johnson will rather double down on his views, enslave the Conservative party and celebrate his personal eccentricity. Integrity, truthfulness, and decency have been thrown under the bus a long time ago and the coercion of the GOP by Trump shows the way forward. Although, this must not be to the disadvantage of the economy, as proven in the US.
Looking beyond the election day and Brexit, we see the following underlying bigger picture and developments ahead, that will be with us for the coming years:
- UK Development: The UK is embarking on one of the biggest economic adventures in recent European history. Having avoided a socialist trap, it will now practice real-time surgery on a living organism, which will fill economic textbooks for many generations to come and set an interesting benchmark for other countries in their national economic strategies. With his successful power grab, it is now Johnson’s task to prove the doomsters and gloomsters wrong and lead the UK to new economic glory. Our prediction is that he can succeed, but only if and when he goes the reform path to the end with radical liberalization, free-market extremism, and competitive taxation. He has the character and power to do it. But it will be exactly the way the European Union does not want the UK to take, so further massive clashes with the EU are coming. If played smart, Dutch, Scandinavians, Germans and Eastern Europeans will use the British liberalization movement to put some liberalization issues on the EU agenda, too and more importantly, to counter French ambitions of further EU centralization and transfer of sovereign power to Brussels
- US Elections: President Trump can rightfully open a box of champagne to celebrate the UK election results (it can be assumed that he will find a way to circumvent his new import duties on French champagne). Next to his sponsorship to Johnson, it shows clearly that the modern electorate does value Trump’s key strengths – a clear and simple message, a focus on the economy and prioritizing a national agenda – more than his flaws – integrity, transparency, truth, and fairness. It should also be a clear and loud warning to the Democrats, that a leftist agenda and candidate will not win them an election, in the US even less than in the UK. Impeachment alone paired with negativism and without a credible economic story and message of hope will fail brutally, Corbynism is dead – for now.
- European Union: For the EU, a moment of truth will arrive, that was postponed by unexpected unanimousness and solidarity during the Brexit negotiation. No envy for Mrs. von der Leyen’s job to keep together centrifugal forces between North and South and East and West of the EU. It has yet to be proven that the newly found sexiness of the EU with Governments and citizens will survive a next economic downturn and a potential Brexit success story, as national agendas gain ground in many member states.
- Russia: Chapeau. The winning streak for Putin and his team seems to continue. The full implementation of Brexit (to which the Russians can claim some helpful contribution) will weaken the EU, take out a big opponent to Russia from the EU governing bodies, and further deteriorate EU support to keep sanctions against Russia in place. After Merkel’s foreseeable departure, more Russia friendly forces can be expected to take power in Germany which will unite with Macron to normalize relations with the biggest Eastern neighbor.
- New Conservatism: The UK elections confirm the trend in Western societies to a New Conservatism. The center of the population has moved to the right and quite significantly. Whether caused by an overreach of egalitarian ideas and concepts, too fast and deep globalization, the rapid change of the work environment, the uncertainty of future job and economic safety, or the information overflow, people cry for strong and simple messages, leadership instead of endless discussions, resurrection of national values and symbols and messages of hope and glory. A New Conservatism is gaining rapidly ground that puts the Nation-State and national interests first. Simultaneously social democratic parties are losing voters at an incredible pace. It is too obvious, that their recipes of the past, which focus on re-distribution of wealth and taxation of the rich, fail to give answers to new challenges in the skills and labor market, the erosion of pension and other social security systems and the flexibility of capital flows in globalised financial markets. Without radical re-invention and new answers, social democrats will fall into complete insignificance.
- How to Win Elections: Last, but not least the UK elections should be used as a textbook for winning elections in modern times: Winning Ugly as a guideline has been successfully practiced by many populist leaders over the past years and has proven to be for the moment the one and only path to winning majorities. marieMain specs of this strategy can be found in all of the election campaigns:
provide a simple and clear message and focus everything on this message, do not answer any other content related questions or provide detailed political concepts, avoid at all cost scrutiny of media, concentrate on friendly media, provoke and dominate, train your memory to be short and lie extensively and repeatedly, create and promote your own fan club and direct access to the electorate.
With these reflections, we wish you a relaxing and peaceful 2019 endgame and a pleasant start into a successful and enriching year 2020.