There’s been a lot of ink spilled by conservative pundits about the meaning of the U.K. elections. Many conservative pundits have massively overstated their case and treated Conservative Party Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s victory as a precursor to what will happen with President Trump’s re-election campaign.
First, there is no established link between the two major parties in the U.S. and the two major parties in Great Britain. Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 election was providentially followed by Ronald Reagan’s 1980 win as two twin lions of anti-Communist resolve came to power and formed a close partnership. However, more often, the countries have each gone their own way. In 1992, John Major led the Conservatives to their fourth straight election victory while George H.W. Bush lost that year. In 1997, Tony Blair and his Labour Party came to power in the U.K. and Labour continued to control Great Britain while George W. Bush won two terms in the U.S. In 2010, David Cameron came to power for the Conservatives in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but that had no impact on President Obama’s re-election two years later.
Second, the U.K. has a very different political system. The U.K. is a parliamentary democracy, it’s made up of four nations (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales), and has spawned multiple regional/nationalist parties. The structure of the parties is different. Prior to the election, Johnson kicked twenty-one uncooperative MPs out of the party and forbid them from running for Parliament on the Conservative line. That’s power the President or U.S. Congressional leaders could only dream about.
Finally, the most important thing that makes the U.K. election unique is Brexit. In 2016, voters went to the polls in a national referendum and opted to leave the European Union. After the election, the pro-Remain members of parliament have undermined the Brexit efforts at every turn, either through outright opposition or through being passive-aggressive and preventing Brexit from actually occurring. Johnson ran on finishing the job and was rewarded with a huge majority.
There’s no issue in the U.S. that’s anything like Brexit. Impeachment or “the wall” doesn’t compare to defying the will of voters regarding their country’s independence in a national referendum. The odious efforts to force a second referendum reeked of politicians who were determined to keep holding new elections until they got the outcome they wanted.
There are lessons to be learned from the U.K. election, and I’ll discuss them in a future post, but the election results has been twisted by many into some prophetic bellwether for 2020 when it’s simply not.