What does Johnson's victory mean for Europe?

Boris Johnson's Conservatives obtained an absolute majority in the UK's general election last week, winning 365 of the 600 seats in parliament. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, pro-independence parties won the most votes. Europe's commentators discuss how the vote can change the continent - not just in political terms.

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Les Echos (FR) /

United Kingdom, divided continent

The relations between Britain and the EU could be reversed in the upcoming negotiations on a trade agreement, Les Echos worries:

“The division could change sides. The British Conservatives were strengthened in the polls and are now numerous enough - and their adversaries weak enough - for a single voice to be heard in Brussels. European unity, meanwhile, could collapse altogether. In the talks with the United Kingdom, Germany's commercial interests will not be the same as France's, not to mention Poland's or Hungary's. Greece will defend its black olives, Germany its cars and Frankfurt's status, France its culture and agriculture ... If the European Union wants to be stronger than the Union Jack, it will have to be able to silence these particular interests.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

A general shift to the right

Neatkarīgā sees the election result and Brexit as signs of a trend that could soon be felt across Europe:

“The British proletariat is too spoiled to want to take care of sick people or to collect rubbish. So they will remain dependent on help from Eastern Europe. But the average Brit is no longer willing to endure the arrival of foreigners with a different skin colour, because this threatens his everyday life and identity. The EU may think what it wants about Brexit, but this time the bolshy Brits have sent a clear signal: sooner or later, restricting immigration will be on the agenda in the rest of Europe too. Right-wing nationalism has the potential to become the dominant trend on the European continent in the coming decades.”

Delovaya Stolitsa (UA) /

Europe will become a pawn of the major powers

Johnson's victory weakens the EU, writes dsnews.ua:

“Russia will naturally benefit from Brexit - it weakens the EU and takes a strong actor, London, off the European field, paving the way for the Kremlin to be more active in Western Europe. A weakening of the EU is also in the US's interest. ... The historical parallels with events 80 years ago are glaringly obvious. Faced with an external threat, the US and UK are moving closer together and distancing themselves from Europe, which tends towards compromises and capitulation. ... The two countries will exert above all economic pressure on the EU, among other things through sanctions aimed at limiting Russia's infiltration of the EU energy market. This will lead to a growing confrontation between Moscow's and Washington's interests in Europe.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

BoJo unchained

The head of the Conservatives can now act independently of internal party considerations in the Brexit negotiations, De Telegraaf concludes:

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson no longer has to listen to the most radical Brexiteers in his faction. ... Johnson now has the leeway he needs to make the negotiations on a trade agreement successful. He promised that they would be completed before the end of 2020, but everyone knows that this is an impossible goal. However, with his clear victory Johnson now has the internal authority to stand up to his political opponents. ”

The Independent (GB) /

Will the UK break apart?

The success of the Scottish National Party (SNP) will reignite the independence debate, The Independent points out:

“The reassertion of the Sturgeon Supremacy in Scotland will put the United Kingdom under new strain. ... It may be that the UK leaving the EU at the end of January would make that [Scottish independence] harder, because the SNP would have to argue to leave one union and to apply to rejoin another, but that is a real life experiment over which Johnson is going to preside. At the same time, Brexit is going to push Northern Ireland further from the rest of the UK and closer to the Republic. Boris Johnson may be prime minister for a long time, but he may be the last prime minister of the UK.”

Protagon.gr (GR) /

Finally some clarity in London

The EU should be relieved with this result, says Protagon:

“For the first time since the controversial and historic vote for Brexit in 2016, Brussels has a clear picture of the prime minister. David Cameron immediately resigned, Theresa May was very weakened, especially after the 2017 election, and until recently Boris Johnson's leadership was seriously questioned within his own party. But now Johnson is clearly a powerful prime minister who knows what he wants.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Now Europe must make its choice

The British have voted, and now the EU can and must be clear about its own vision, writes columnist Aldo Cazzullo in Corriere della Sera:

“Europe now has two options. To backtrack and settle for a monetary union, consolidate the euro and leave it at that. Or accelerate on the road to federalism without the brake that the UK always represented. In recent years London has had one foot in the EU and the other outside it. It did not recognise Schengen or Maastricht. It had more privileges than disadvantages. But all that is a thing of the past after last night. The die is cast. History will show whether this choice was the right one.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Farewell to British openness

Dagens Nyheter is saddened by the Tories' victory:

“Openness to the world is what made modern Britain what it is today. Now the fog is descending over the English Channel. The continent is isolated. A deep sadness prevails. ... Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister who reinvented the dream of Britain as something unique, as something more than a bigger version of Belgium in island format. But precisely this dream, this narrative, culminated this evening in a Conservative government with only one promise: to separate from the EU. There's an old joke that goes: 'Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off'. Never has this been more true than it is now.”