Backbencher Boris Johnson comes to the fore knocking rivals out of the park

By Gwyn Wright
December 13 2019, 12.30

Boris Johnson was a backbench MP in May when he made what turned out to be an uncannily accurate prediction.

“We need to get Brexit done properly and then knock Corbyn out of the park,” he wrote.

In his wildest dreams, he couldn’t possibly have imagined just how far off the park he would knock Mr Corbyn.

Few would have predicted that he would lead the Tories to their biggest majority since the 1980s and take political scalps not just of Corbyn but several other of his main opponents in one of the most astonishing nights in British politics.

DUP leader Nigel Dodds, who led his party’s opposition to every attempt to get Brexit through the Commons- lost his seat to Sinn Fein at 3.06am. Sinn Fein’s main nationalist rival, the SDLP, stood aside in the seat.

As results all went Johnson’s way in Labour heartlands that declared early- from Blyth Valley to Darlington and Workington- Corbyn admitted defeat at 3.26am.

He said he won’t lead his party into the next election but didn’t announce an exact date for his resignation.

Jo Swinson- who once threatened to topple the Tories in swathes of Remain-voting southern seats- was out of a job less than twenty minutes later as the SNP won her East Dunbartonshire seat.

Nigel Farage, who had propelled the PM to the top job as sceptical MPs reluctantly agreed to back him or face being gobbled up by the Brexit Party- watched his party clock up just 2 per cent of the vote.

As results poured in from Labour-Tory battlegrounds, it became clear that an unleashed Johnson would not need to rely on the European Research Group of Eurosceptic backbenchers in crunch votes, unless he actively chooses to court them.

Remainer rebels such as Dominic Grieve, David Gauke and Anne Milton also failed to make a Commons comeback as independents.

A triumphant Johnson has just one rival left standing.

Nicola Sturgeon is demanding that Hollyrood be given the unilateral power to trigger a new independence referendum.

Johnson will almost certainly refuse, but a new constitutional crisis may be starting just as the last one has ended.

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