British prime minister Boris Johnson as seen during his September 2019 visit to the grand duchy
Photo: Jan Hanrion/archives
The historic UK general election on Thursday saw Boris Johnson’s Conservatives take the majority 364 of the 650 House of Commons seats. Here’s how some locals are reacting to the results and Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done”.
On Friday, Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel tweeted congratulations to Johnson, the former adding that he was “looking forward to working with the UK government on an ambitious future relationship in the interest of our citizens.”
Congratulations to @BorisJohnson for this election victory. Looking forward to working with the UK government on an ambitious future relationship in the interest of our citizens.
Foreign minister Jean Asselborn, in an article on RTL, admitted he wasn’t surprised by the Tory majority, adding that “Jeremy Corbyn was so poorly positioned that he could not win, Labour’s positions were simply unclear”.
Fiona Urquhart, chair of theLuxembourg branch of Labour International, says their branch is “deeply disappointed at the result. It is evidence that our policy of focusing on other issues than Brexit, which are often more important on a daily basis, such as the NHS, was unsuccessful.”
The group statement also included a word on Brexit. “We consider that Brexit will be worse than the current situation for EU and UK citizens and that there will be years of negotiations ahead despite the ‘Get Brexit Done’ slogan. We welcome Jeremy Corbyn's comments and would emphasise that this is a time to join the Labour Party and help to steer it in a more successful direction.”
Chris Garratt, chair of the Luxembourg Liberal Democrats, said he was disappointed about the results. "Britain has lots its reputation as a moderate, fair society and has moved strongly towards fascism... very sad! Jo Swinson did a good job for the Lib Dems but having lost her own seat could not continue as leader. We need team leaders, not charismatic clowns such as Johnson. Britain will take 50 years to get over the divide caused by Brexit, and many years to get back to the prosperity pre-referendum."
The Conservatives Abroad in Luxembourg group had wound down before the elections.
Luxembourg resident David Pike had been among those from the British immigrants living in Luxembourg (Brill) group to protest Johnson’s September visit to the grand duchy (pictured above), which saw the British prime minister skip a planned press conference.
“I see it more as a loss for the opposition than it is for the Conservatives a win... The brave manifesto Labour put forward, and the way it was delivered, did not resonate with the public and traditional Labour voting constituencies.” He added that the lack of decisive leadership and the “anti-semitism business” helped lead to a “massive and humiliating defeat”.
Concerning Brexit, Pike adds, “Without the encumbrance of the European Research Group breathing down [Johnson’s] neck, he may be able to forge a Brexit softer than he led on.”
Notably absent from the dialogue--at least on Twitter--was British Ambassador to Luxembourg John Marshall. However, it is anticipated he will address the topic during today’s British Chamber Christmas lunch--stay tuned on Delano for an update on this front.
The Financial Times reported there was “relief in Brussels” following the election. Although EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen hadn’t taken to Twitter to comment as some of her colleagues had, FT quoted her as saying on Thursday night that the EU was ready for what was ahead: “We have the structures internally, we are ready to negotiate whatever is necessary.”
On Twitter, European Council president Charles Michel congratulated Johnson on his victory, adding: “We expect a vote on the withdrawal agreement as soon as possible. EU is ready for the next phase. We will negotiate a future trade deal which ensures a true level playing field.”