While UK PM Boris Johnson looks set for a major win, the other big story of the UK election is the “overwhelming triumph” of the pro-independence SNP, said former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.
The host of The Alex Salmond Show on RT said that the exit poll results were a “two-edged sword” for Scotland, because the SNP drove what he called a “wipe out year” for Johnson’s party despite the Tories’ overall Westminster win.
You’ve got the irresistible force of Scottish independence meeting the immovable object of Boris Johnson and his parliamentary majority.
The fact that Johnson has been so adamant that he would say ‘no’ to permitting a second independence referendum may have contributed to the Tories inability to gain ground there, Salmond said.
‘Years of negotiations’ on trade
Johnson’s “get Brexit done” mantra might’ve resonated with voters, but that it is ultimately a “meaningless” slogan, Salmond said, adding that he expects Britons can look forward to long and arduous trade negotiations with the EU.
Salmond described Johnson’s predicted clean sweep as a “triumph the extent of which hasn’t been seen since Margaret Thatcher” and said that in parliamentary terms the Tory leader now has a loyal majority “who will back him to the hilt.”
That doesn’t mean things will be as simple as Johnson has made out, however. Just because Boris enjoys a healthy majority in the House of Commons does not mean that the European Commission and European Union will bow to whatever he wants on trade. There will come a moment over the next year, Salmond said, when the Conservatives will figure out that their ambitions won’t always be matched by reality.
“[The Tories] will find that a majority in the House of Commons does not change the laws of gravity,” Salmond said.
Nobody else in the world is going to be swayed by the parliamentary opinion of the Conservative Party.
Trade deals take time and the one with the EU “will take a great deal longer than Boris Johnson has been claiming,” Salmond pointed out, adding that the overwhelming likelihood is that Britain can look forward to “years of negotiations.”
Russia will still be ‘convenient’ bogeyman
As for foreign policy, Salmond said he would not anticipate any major change where Russia is concerned, because all UK parties typically see Moscow as a “convenient whipping boy.” There is also media pressure to continue to be anti-Russia.
To be opposed to Russia is to be on the right side of the UK media.
Having such a comfortable parliamentary majority might “open up room” for Johnson to pursue friendlier relations with Moscow. It is more likely, Salmond believes, that the relationship will remain “as tense and as difficult as it has been in recent years.”
Trade deals with Trump?
If official results validate Johnson’s projected victory, the PM would be “emboldened” to seek a big trade deal with the US, particularly given that the trade deal with Europe is going to be more difficult than he has admitted. To try to secure a trade deal with Washington will now look like a “very attractive option” for Johnson, Salmond believes.
The problem here will be that Trump is facing impeachment proceedings and that a hostile Congress can still block any trade deals the president makes. Johnson will also need to be wary that anything which suggests that the National Health Service (NHS) would be vulnerable to US private influence is “anathema to voters” — and not just those who voted for Labour and other opposition parties.
“It’s also pretty difficult to swallow for people who backed Brexit and backed Boris Johnson,” he said.
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