Of course it’s a great victory for Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, and for the spirit of Machiavelli hovering over their heads. It’s also a triumph for our Right-wing press, perhaps the least ‘free’ and fair in Europe; and for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, both of whom were backing Boris for national reasons of their own. Lastly, because one of its effects is likely to be the continued onward march of unfettered Anglo-American capitalism, it could be said to bear out those Marxists who hold that capitalism cannot be reformed (a la Corbyn) but must be allowed to go on to self-destruction before it can be replaced. That, after all, is the main trend just now all over Europe, in the strange guise of ‘populism’, and taking on quasi-fascistic forms. Britain can’t, it seems, escape the grand imperative of history, any more than any other nation. In her particular case, Brexit is the horse her ultra-Right have ridden to their victory.
Just as in a ‘Khaki’ election, so here Brexit was used to override (or ‘trump’) every other issue. First it was the issue itself, albeit with Europe serving as a scapegoat for other concerns; then the time it was taking to settle it, which was inevitable in view of its complexities, but which Johnson blamed on Parliamentary ‘obstruction’, which enabled him to mount a ‘people versus Parliament’ campaign. ‘Get Brexit done’ was virtually his only appeal to the voters. Well, now perhaps it will be done; although most authorities believe that, with detailed trade negotiations to follow, there’s a long way to go yet.
What the election result can’t do is to ‘bring people together again’. For a start, the Scots will be even more determined to break away from a Union whose policy towards Europe doesn’t represent their democratic wish at all. Then the Northern Irish won’t be too pleased with Johnson’s arrangements for them. In England the 48% who originally voted for Brexit – it would almost certainly be more if the referendum were taken today – won’t rest content with a result largely achieved by lying and fraud. That spells years more angry division. Corbyn’s strategy might have healed our wounds. But that’s out of the window now.