Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party, announced early Friday that he would resign from his post after suffering a crushing, landslide defeat to the Conservative party led by current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, The New York Times reported.
Exit polling released after voting closed at 10 p.m. local time in the U.K. showed the Conservatives, or Tories, winning 365 seats in Britain’s House of Commons to 196 for second-place Labour in the U.K.’s multi-party system. The parliament has 650 seats, meaning that Johnson’s party will hold a sizable majority if the exit poll results hold up.
The majority win means that Johnson has been granted a clear mandate by British voters to carry out Brexit, withdrawing the U.K. from the European Union on January 31, 2020.
Corbyn entered the race holding an anemic 21 percent positive approval rating from the British public, according to YouGov polling. A 61 percent negative rating left Corbyn a staggering 40 points “underwater.” Johnson is also unpopular with British voters, but his net favorability rating sits at a negative of just 12 points.
Johnson has been compared to Donald Trump, and not always in a complimentary way. Guy Verhofstadt, a senior Belgian E.U. official, labeled Johnson not only “Trumpian,” but also “infantile” after the U.K. leader compared his country’s exit from the European Union to the Marvel Comics character Hulk breaking free of chains.
In charge of a minority government, Johnson was unable to push any version of a Brexit plan through parliament, leading him to gamble by calling elections in hopes that his party would gain a majority, according to the NYT report. That gamble has now paid off to a greater extent than Johnson may have thought possible.
Though as one expert quoted by The NYT pointed out, “not a single aspect of Brexit will have been sorted out,” Johnson is now liberated from the need to form a coalition that could end up stopping him from going through with whatever form of Brexit he chooses, even an extreme, no-deal Brexit.
In a “no deal” scenario, the U.K. would leave the E.U. without any trade agreements in place. A no-deal Brexit would also mean that the U.K. would immediately pull out of such institutions as the European Court of Justice, as well as a multitude of E.U. economic regulatory agencies.
Corbyn, who called the election “very disappointing,” pledged that he would not lead the party into another election, but gave no timetable for his resignation as Labour leader, despite calls from within the party for the 70-year-old lifelong socialist to surrender his post immediately.
In what may have been a decisive factor in the election, Corbyn appeared unable to make up his mind on Brexit, supporting neither the pro-Brexit “Leave” position, nor the “Remain” opposition. Instead, according to the BBC, Corbyn’s party took a neutral stance on Brexit ahead of the election in which the U.K.’s withdrawal from the E.U. was the central issue.