Brexit, the 2019 General Election and the Realignment of British Politics

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Abstract

The outcome of the 2019 general election—a resounding Conservative majority and an unprecedented defeat for Labour—delivered a decisive electoral verdict for the first time in recent years following a period where British politics has been characterised by instability and indecision. In this article, we draw on aggregate-level data to conduct an initial exploration of the vote. What was the impact of Brexit on the 2019 general election result? How far has Brexit reshaped electoral politics? Was 2019 a ‘realignment election’? And, if so, what are the implications? With a focus on England and Wales we show that, although the Conservatives made gains deep into Labour’s working class heartlands, these gains have been a long time coming, reflected in Labour’s weakening relationship with working class Britain. As such, 2019 is not a critical election but a continuation of longer-term trends of dealignment and realignment in British politics.

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Cutts, D., Goodwin, M., Heath, O., & Surridge, P. (2020). Brexit, the 2019 General Election and the Realignment of British Politics. Political Quarterly, 91(1), 7–23. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-923X.12815

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