‘The price of populism’: UK MEPs react to Boris Johnson election victory

On Friday morning UK MEPs digested the news of Boris Johnson’s triumph in the UK general election and shared their thoughts with The Parliament Magazine.

Boris Johnson | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

13 Dec 2019


A victorious Boris Johnson has promised to work “night and day” to repay the trust of voters after he led the Conservatives to an “historic” general election win.

With just one seat left to declare, the Tories now have a Commons majority of 78.

Speaking in London, the Prime Minister said he had a mandate to take the UK out of the EU next month “no ifs, no buts.”


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Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not fight another election as leader after the party was swept aside in its traditional heartlands.

As the election news sank in on Friday morning, this website canvassed reaction from UK MEPs.

Senior Labour MEP Rory Palmer called on Jeremy Corbyn to quit immediately after the outcome of the UK election.

Palmer said, “I’m absolutely clear: Jeremy Corbyn must resign as Labour leader, today.”

“This has been a dreadful, terrible night for Labour. This defeat belongs to the leadership and those at the top of the party. They must take responsibility” Rory Palmer MEP

“This has been a dreadful, terrible night for Labour. This defeat belongs to the leadership and those at the top of the party. They must take responsibility: their strategy, their manifesto, their messaging, their seat targeting, their campaign. They own this.”

“We’ve let down the people and communities that needed a Labour Government the most - it’s unforgivable. I thought Ed Miliband was wrong to resign straight away, the morning after the 2015 defeat. Corbyn could not do anything more appropriate this morning than resign as leader.”

“The frustrating reality of these past few years in Labour is that those of us who at any point voiced even the mildest concern, criticism or dissent at the direction taken by the leadership were shouted down, harangued, insulted, told to 'get out'. This sorry mess is the direct result of that culture.”

He added, “I also see in comments this morning that we're going to have a torrid few days or weeks of people blaming the voters, the media, the weather and pretty much everything else. Anyone who has knocked on doors in what used to be known as Labour heartlands knows full well why and how this has happened.”

“What concerns me the most is the price ordinary people will pay. Lies about Brexit will unravel in the coming years, as will the British Union” Neena Gill MEP

“One thing is for sure, it’s definitely time for that 'straight talking, honest politics'. There has to be a full and frank debate about how we've ended up here, what needs to happen next and what needs to change. We have to reflect, yes, but there’s an immediate job to do to rebuild and to get on with holding Johnson’s new government to account. That needs new leadership.”

Party colleague Neena Gill told The Parliament Magazine, “I am surprised by the scale of the Conservative win and my heart reaches out to many Labour talented colleagues in my region and hardworking friends in the country who’ve lost their seats.”

“But what concerns me most is the price ordinary people will pay. Lies about Brexit will unravel in the coming years, as will the British Union. The likely result will be the decline of a country as a heavyweight on the international arena, losing jobs and investment. This is the price of populism.”

A dejected Labour MEP Claude Moraes told this site, “The result will amongst many things see the UK leaving the EU on 31 January with certainty this time - it will see the departure of many British eurosceptic MEPs who have a destructive attitude to the EU and I’m sure that will be a relief for many.”

“Pro-European Labour MEPs and other constructive MEPs, some of whom have made a significant, positive contribution to the Parliament and EU over many years, will be the last to sit for the UK” Claude Moraes MEP

“But pro-European Labour MEPs and other constructive MEPs some of whom have made a significant, positive contribution to the Parliament and EU over many years, will be the last to sit for the UK. In that sense this election has brought this part of the Brexit story to an end - but Brexit itself is a story which will continue for some time.”

His colleague Richard Corbett commented, “While Johnson claims that getting 1 percent more than May for the Conservatives is a mandate for Brexit, it’s worth pointing out that a majority of 53 percent voted for parties wanting to hold a new referendum.”

“Indeed, almost every opinion poll this year had a majority for Remain in any new Brexit referendum. If Labour had articulated this loud and clear, instead of the contortions it went through, the majority supporting Remain would've been even higher, it would've been led by Labour, and Labour would've been in a stronger position.”

“It’s worth pointing out that a majority of 53 percent voted for parties wanting to hold a new referendum” Richard Corbett

A clearly delighted Tory MEP Anthea McIntyre told this website, “Last night the Conservative Party won a stunning victory. In the West Midlands region, which I represent, we won 9 seats - some we have never held before. All of Stoke-on-Trent is now blue, as are West Bromwich and Dudley.”

“We took two of the three seats in Wolverhampton and had a major breakthrough in Birmingham, where we won Northfield. I am so proud of all our local Conservative candidates. They are from the West Midlands and for the West Midlands - -and I know they will represent their constituents very well.”

Further comment came from Liberal MEP Bill Newton Dunn who said, “For me, the popular vote was a ‘cry of despair.’  The public senses that their country is in relative decline, losing leadership and influence and without answers to lack of prosperity in the traditional Labour heartlands.”

“Boris Johnson is a comic pro-European charlatan who faces huge problems for which he is partly responsible - the breakup of the UK, voters deeply disappointed in five years’ time, promises broken, an antique constitutional system (unfair voting system, unelected upper chamber, bloated monarchy, etc), climate change not discussed.”

“The public senses that their country is in relative decline, losing leadership and influence and without answers to lack of prosperity in the traditional Labour heartlands” Bill Newton Dunn MEP

“The many necessary reforms and modernisation have been put off so there are huge problems to come for Johnson and the UK.”

Fellow Liberal MEP Chris Davies said, “This is a dreadful result for Labour and a dreadful result for the Liberal Democrats, made worse by our unfair election system.  And a dreadful result for the future of our country.”

He added, “Brexit is now certain, and the European Union will then have to negotiate with a government elected on a platform of xenophobia and lies. It is not a good basis for building a relationship of trust and close cooperation.”

Veteran Tory MEP Geoffrey Van Orden told this site: “The British people have been desperate to get Brexit done so that we could begin to address all the other issues demanding attention. At the same time, across the country, there has been a whole-hearted rejection of the hard-Left agenda of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.”

“This is a dreadful result for Labour and a dreadful result for the Liberal Democrats, made worse by our unfair election system.  And a dreadful result for the future of our country” Chris Davies MEP

“Boris Johnson’s simple promise - to ‘get Brexit done then unleash Britain's potential’ spoke to people's hearts and reached parts of the electorate Conservatives have not connected with since the days of Margaret Thatcher.”

“The British people have a strong sense of fair play and a deep patriotism. Now is the opportunity to grow our economy, to lift those parts of the country left behind, and to enhance our role in the world beyond Europe.”

He added, “I hope that all MEPs, particularly from the UK but also across the Parliament, will respond positively to the clear decision of the British people and expedite the passage of the Brexit agreement through the Parliament.”

Former Liberal MEP Andrew Duff said, “Boris Johnson has a free hand to play in the EU negotiations. He should drop the ERG script and redraft the Political Declaration to steer towards a final association agreement that recognises the mutual EU-UK interest in building as close and dynamic a partnership as possible.”

“Boris Johnson’s simple promise - to ‘get Brexit done then unleash Britain's potential’ spoke to people's hearts and reached parts of the electorate Conservatives have not connected with since the days of Margaret Thatcher” Geoffrey Van Orden MEP

“Brussels can now shed the unfortunate delusion, too long fuelled by Donald Tusk; that Brexit could or should be reversed. Hard-headed negotiations can now begin across the board: it’s about much more than the market and LPF, including about shared values, the rich legacy of membership and common insecurity in a dangerous world.”

Former Labour MP Roger Casale said, “The election result is a collective act of self-harm that will continue to damage and divide Britain for a generation to come. New Europeans will continue to campaign to make sure citizens do not pay the price of Brexit and fight for the UK to rejoin the EU one day in the future.”

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