N1's Foreign Affairs Editor Ivana Dragicevic spoke to Jo Johnson, brother of the current British Prime Minister and leader of the Tory party, Boris Johnson, as voters in the United Kingdom are heading to the polling stations on Thursday in what is likely the most important general election in decades.
Jo Johnson became part of Boris Johnson's Cabinet as Minister of State for Universities after his brother was chosen to succeed Theresa May as the country's Prime Minister in July this year. However, he resigned from the Cabinet in September and announced he would not seek another term as MP in the December general election, saying he was “torn between family and national interest.”
Asked whether Friday the 13th would be a happy day for Prime Minister Johnson, he said it was important to wait for the results.
“It’s important that he has a clear majority in the parliament. He needs to be able to put his deal back to parliament, get the deal he reached with the European Union through parliament, and then start the next stage of this process: to negotiate the future trade relationship by the end of 2020,” Johnson said. “It is vital for him to get a majority on Thursday night.”
If Boris Johnson does win on Thursday, and manages to push his Brexit deal through parliament, it will generate new tensions within the UK, Johnson said.
“Brexit continues to be controversial, it divides families, political parties, the country as a whole,” he said. “But it also divides the country along its national components.”
Two nations within the United Kingdom, Wales and England, have voted for Brexit, while the other two, Scotland and Northern Ireland, voted against.
“The Scots are concerned about leaving the single market and leaving the rest of the structures of the European Union, and this will increase calls for a second Scottish referendum, after the first that they held in 2014. So that is another challenge that Boris will have to negotiate if he wins on Friday morning,” Johnson said.
Talking about Prime Minister Johnson’s biggest rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Johnson said he was the biggest threat to the UK.
“The threat of a Jeremy Corbyn government dwarfs the risks of Brexit to the economy. In the economy, there might be a few bumps, but we’ll get there in the end. Jeremy Corbyn will set Britain back for decades,” Johnson warned. “He is openly espousing the most radical economic programme, that any country in Western Europe will have seen in many, many decades.”
“Conservatives cannot be complacent. They need to make sure that they get their vote out on Thursday, that everybody who is concerned about a Corbyn government… should make sure they prevent him from having a hand on the levers of power,” he said.