Current Events

United Kingdom Selects New Leader: Boris Johnson Officially PM

On Thursday, December 12 the United Kingdom held a general election. These elections happen every five years, although this is the third since 2015. Citizens vote to fill the 650 seat for Members of Parliament who then choose the next Prime Minister. Members of Parliament work in the House of Commons and most represent a political party. They are the lawmakers of the UK, similar to Representatives and Senators in the US. The Prime Minister is a similar position to President in the US, but PMs serve until they either step down or are removed from office. 

This most recent election was a big, highly contested one. In English elections, the public votes for MPs, and the party that takes the majority of the House will form the government, and the Prime Minister is chosen by the winning party. After a candidate is chosen the Queen must approve them, but is only a formality. On December 12, the Conservative (Tory) party won the House with 368 MPs, choosing sitting-Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. 

Johnson’s main goal as PM is to go forward with Brexit. He supports a hard Brexit, and has shown that he will stop at nothing in trying to achieve this. He believes it is better for the future of the United Kingdom as a country, but has yet to come up with distinct plans for the economy following the Brexit. Another one of Johnson’s promises is that he will “reclaim” money from the National Health Service (NHS, Britain’s public healthcare system). This move in and of itself moves the UK closer to the private healthcare system that the US has. Moving to private healthcare would be costly for the British economy and puts many vulnerable Brits in a precarious situation.

This British election was a heartbreaker for many Labour party voters, as a predicted close call ended with the Conservatives having their largest majority of MPs since 1987. However, only 67.3% of registered voters turned up to the polls (BBC). This poor turnout has opened up the conversation of how to get young people in the UK to vote. Young people are the focus, although no data has been released to say that this age group actually had the lowest turnout. 

Now that the cabinet of Johnson has been finalized, and a new Speaker of the House of Commons was chosen (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) all that can be done is that the public must watch and wait to see if Boris Johnson’s plan to exit the European Union will come to fruition. Many Labour party Brits are scared of what the future holds for services like the NHS, but Conservatives have high expectations for their new Prime Minister. Only time will tell how Boris Johnson will navigate the UK through these coming changes.

 

By Eliana Sauer

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