Following the Conservative party’s landslide victory in Thursday’s elections, the British currency’s value spiked.
By Associated Press
The pound surged when an exit poll forecast a Tory win in United Kingdom elections on Thursday, jumping over two cents against the dollar, to $1.3445, the highest in more than a year and a half.
Many investors hope the Conservative win will speed up the Brexit process and ease, at least in the short term, some of the uncertainty that has corroded business confidence since the 2016 vote.
Voters casting ballots on Thursday hoped the election might finally find a way out of the Brexit stalemate in this deeply divided nation. Three and a half years after the U.K. voted by 52%-48% to leave the EU, Britons remain split over whether to leave the 28-nation bloc, and lawmakers have proved incapable of agreeing on departure terms.
Opinion polls had given the Conservatives a steady lead, but the result was considered hard to predict, because the issue of Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties. The Labour party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, contended with rampant anti-Semitism in the party, which most members of the Jewish community believe hasn’t been confronted in a meaningful or effective manner.
Johnson campaigned relentlessly on a promise to “Get Brexit done” by getting Parliament to ratify his “oven-ready” divorce deal with the EU and take Britain out of the bloc as scheduled on Jan. 31.
The Conservatives focused much of their energy on trying to win in a “red wall” of working-class towns in central and northern England that have elected Labour lawmakers for decades but also voted strongly in 2016 to leave the EU. That effort got a boost when the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage decided at the last minute not to contest 317 Conservative-held seats to avoid splitting the pro-Brexit vote.
Labour, which is largely but ambiguously pro-EU, faced competition for anti-Brexit voters from the centrist Liberal Democrats, Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties, and the Greens.
But on the whole Labour tried to focus the campaign away from Brexit and onto its radical domestic agenda, vowing to tax the rich, nationalize industries such as railroads and water companies and give everyone in the country free internet access. It campaigned heavily on the future of the National Health Service, a deeply respected institution that has struggled to meet rising demand after nine years of austerity under Conservative-led governments.
Following Labour’s defeat, Corbyn announced he would step down as party leader.