Election’s impact to be felt for decades: Johnson

09 Dec 2019

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BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to activists and supporters as he poses for a photograph at the Conservative party’s election headquarters on Sunday.—AP
BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to activists and supporters as he poses for a photograph at the Conservative party’s election headquarters on Sunday.—AP

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that the impact of Thursday’s general election would be “felt for decades” as campaigning entered the final stages.

The prime minister is hoping to regain the majority that his Conservative Party lost this year, with a slew of polls released on Saturday suggesting he was narrowly on course to achieve his goal.

The stakes could barely be higher, with the fate of Brexit still to be settled.

“We’re fighting for every vote and... this is a critical moment for this country, the choice on Thursday is unbelievably stark,” he told Sky News.

He compared the election to other “historic elections” such as of 1906, 1945 and 1979.

“The impact of this election will be felt for decades to come,” he wrote in an open letter.

A Conservative majority would almost certainly cement Britain’s departure from the European Union, but any other result could lead to a second referendum and the 2016 result being overturned.

The prime minister faced scrutiny over promises there would be no checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain as part of his Brexit deal with Brussels.

“There’s no question of there being checks,” he told Sky News, adding “why would we put checks on goods going from NI to GB or GB to NI? It doesn’t make sense.”

His claims appear to contradict a leaked government document revealed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn this week, which suggested that businesses would need to fill in paperwork when moving goods across the Irish Sea.

Corbyn is banking on a late surge, as he achieved in 2017, to prevent Johnson from winning a majority.

But polls released on Saturday showed the Conservatives with an average lead of 10 per cent.

Pollsters believe that Johnson needs to be more than six points clear of Labour on Thursday to secure a majority.

The prime minister announced on Sunday that he would introduce an “Australian-style” points-based immigration system if elected, signalling a tightening of low-skilled immigration.

“You’ve got to have a system by which party politicians can say to people, ‘well, yes, we are letting people in but we’re doing it in a way that is controlled’,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2019