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Johnson Returns to Downing Street After Big Win: U.K. Votes

Boris Johnson, U.K. prime minister, gestures as he delivers a speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, U.K., on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.Johnson's election victory will allow him to get Brexit done. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Boris Johnson’s emphatic election victory puts the U.K. on course to leave the European Union next month, after pro-Brexit voters in Labour heartland areas swung behind his party.

Johnson’s Conservatives are set to enjoy their biggest majority since 1987 under Margaret Thatcher. The pound rose by the most in almost three years as the scale of the Tory victory became clear.

Key Developments:
With all but one seat declared, the Conservatives had taken 364 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, a gain of 47, to Labour’s 203 seats, down 59.
Jeremy Corbyn says he will step down after Labour’s worst result since World War II
U.K. Plc Cheers Johnson Election Win, But Brexit Still Looms
Pound Surges and Gilts Drop as Tory Landslide Jolts U.K. Assets
Johnson Wins Crushing Majority in Election That Upends Britain
Here’s the latest (all times local):

Sturgeon Says independence a matter for Scotland alone (12:15 p.m.)
Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland’s semi-autonomous government will publish the “democratic case for a transfer of power” from Westminster “to enable a referendum to be put beyond legal challenge.”

Under current law, Westminster must vote to allow Scotland a further independence referendum, a move Johnson has ruled out. Sturgeon argued the SNP election result gives her the mandate to put that decision to Scotland without Westminster approval, saying she’ll set out her “detailed” case next week. “I have been clear that a referendum must be the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament,” she told supporters. “This is not about asking Boris Johnson or any other Westminster politician for permission. It is an assertion of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future.”

Johnson Returns to Downing Street (11.42 a.m.)
Almost an hour after he arrived at Buckingham Palace, Johnson returned to Downing Street, walking briskly up to the front door. Why was he with the Queen for so long? She may have had a lot of questions for him, but equally he could have been held up by the Changing of the Guard at the palace, which prevented him from leaving.

Cameron offers his praise (11.31 a.m.)
Former Prime Minister David Cameron, a long-time rival of Johnson who resigned after losing the Brexit referendum in 2016, offered “big congratulations” on the victory.

“It’s an extraordinary result, a powerful result. It marks the end of Corbyn and Corbynism and that’s a very good thing for the country,” Cameron said in a pooled TV clip. “It gives us a very strong and decisive government, and the opportunity to build the dynamic economy and good public services we need.”

What happens to Brexit now? (11.12 a.m.)
MPs return to Parliament on Dec. 17, followed by a Queen’s Speech laying out the government’s program two days later. Johnson will then look to introduce the Withdrawal Agreement Bill before Christmas, with the aim of passing it in good time before the Brexit deadline of Jan. 31.

The 11-month transition period will start from the end of January, during which time Johnson will get down to thrashing out a trade deal with the EU. He’ll first need Parliament to sign off his negotiating objectives, and the EU will also need to get approval for its mandate.

If Johnson sticks to his campaign promise to not extend the transition period, the U.K. and the EU will have a tight time line to hammer out an accord. If the talks fail, the U.K. will leave the EU without a trade agreement at the end of 2020.

Johnson sees the Queen (10.51 a.m.)
The prime minister is leaving Number 10 Downing Street in a grey Jaguar to go to Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth II will ask him to form a government. Recall that he made a similar visit just five months ago when he replaced Theresa May as Conservative Party leader. This time he’s heading back with his own mandate to run the country, finally able to move from campaign mode to governing.

Corbyn may stay for a while (10.18 a.m)
Corbyn may remain as leader until April because Labour Party rules dictate a minimum 12-week leadership election. The timetable must be set by the National Executive Committee which isn’t meeting until January.

Electoral questions (10:02 a.m.)
The Conservatives and the Brexit Party combined got 47% of votes, less than the 52% of support for parties in favor of a second referendum, polling guru John Curtice told the BBC.

The result is likely to prompt more debate about the U.K.’s first-past-the-post electoral system, as victory didn’t come for those with the most popular idea but rather those with the better organized campaign, said Curtice, who ran the team of psephologists that delivered the exit poll last night.

Future Europe ties (9:57 a.m.)
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the decisive result means the EU and U.K. can move forward on completing the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Varadkar told reporters in Brussels before a meeting with fellow EU leaders that the next steps will be to develop a future economic partnership with the U.K., “one that’s going to be mighty and one that’s going to be good for all of us.”

Chancellor #Merkel: “Congratulations, Boris Johnson, on your resounding victory. I look forward to working with you for the friendship and strong cooperation between our nations.” pic.twitter.com/ZNCDkjpnQj

— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) December 13, 2019
Scottish standoff (9:28 a.m.)
Boris Johnson may be celebrating his election victory but another leader also scored an emphatic win — and it’s one that promises to set up a renewed clash over the U.K.’s future.

The Scottish National Party took back most of the districts it lost two years ago. Such a dramatic outcome –- winning 48 of the 59 seats available in Scotland -– will galvanize the party in its pursuit of the independence referendum leader Nicola Sturgeon says is necessary after Scotland opposed leaving the EU.

Heartland swing (9:24 a.m.)
Towns in northern England share a history of mining, faded industry and neglect. For generations they also had another thing in common: staunch support for Labour.

But many of the former mining and steel towns also voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum amid anger at austerity, frustration over immigration and dismay at joblessness and lack of opportunity. That saw some areas swap over to the Tories yesterday because they didn’t see Brexit as being done under a Corbyn government.

Earlier:
Johnson’s Victory Gives Him a Free Hand to Get Brexit Done
Brexit Rewrites U.K.’s Political Map: Balance of Power Special
Corbyn to Stand Down as U.K. Labour Party Faces Record Defeat

–With assistance from Richard Bravo and Tim Ross.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Kitty Donaldson in London at [email protected];
Jessica Shankleman in London at [email protected];
Joe Mayes in London at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Rosalind Mathieson at [email protected]

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