Boris Johnson’s Big Gamble: A Winning Strategy for Brexit? | WSJ
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Boris Johnson’s Big Gamble: A Winning Strategy for Brexit? | WSJ


– Here we go, here we go.
(muffled group chattering) – [Narrator] UK Prime
Minister Boris Johnson, fighting in a general
election that he called for as he doesn’t have a
majority in Parliament, which he needs to be able to
push through his Brexit agenda. – I don’t want an election in December, and, under normal
circumstances, nobody does. We have to clear this
parliamentary blockage. – [Narrator] Johnson’s bet
is that calling an election is the only way to end
a three-year deadlock and allow the UK to leave
the EU by January 31st. – It will be something
that clears our arteries. It will unblock our system, it
will get us back on our feet. – [Narrator] But calling an
election is a big gamble, one which, win or lose, could
see him go down in history. If he wins, he could become
known as the prime minister who finally took the UK
out of the European Union, but if he loses, his
four-and-a-half-month tenure would make him the
shortest-serving prime minister in almost two centuries.
(pleasant electronic music) (crowd applauding) – [Boris] Good afternoon. – [Narrator] Johnson has
made other political bets since he became prime
minister, with mixed results. Upon taking office in July, he bet that he could get the
EU to reopen negotiations surrounding the withdrawal agreement arranged by his predecessor, Theresa May. – The withdrawal agreement
is dead, it’s gotta go, but there is scope to do a new deal. – [Narrator] Many said
it couldn’t be done. – There will be no further interpretation of the interpretations, and no further assurances
on the reassurances. – [Narrator] But his bet paid off. Europe agreed to renegotiate the terms of its divorce deal with Britain. – We have a deal. – [Narrator] He also
promised he’d deliver Brexit, deal or no deal, do or die, by– – October the 31st. On October the 31st. October the 31st. On October the 31st, no ifs or buts. – [Reporter] Can you make a promise today to the British public that you
will not go back to Brussels and ask for another delay to Brexit? – Yes, I can. – [Reporter] And would you– – I’d rather be dead in a ditch. – [Narrator] But come October, his plan was shot down by Parliament, and he was forced to request an extension to the Brexit deadline. – Mr. Speaker, I must
express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay. – [Narrator] Johnson’s
make or break approach has also cost him his
majority in the House. The prime minister threatened to expel members of his own party
who would vote against him and in favor of a law to
prevent a no-deal Brexit. – Conservatives sitting
on the back benches that are prepared to put
our national interest before party interests are going to be forced out their party! – [Narrator] Johnson’s plan backfired. Despite his warnings,
21 members of his party voted against him, and
Johnson expelled them. – I do not regret putting
my job on the line to save my constituents’ jobs. I do regret that the prime
minister forced me to do it. – [Narrator] So Johnson is now trying to rebuild that majority. – One of the most important
reasons for voting conservative and to help us to get a working majority is that we can get Brexit done now. – [Narrator] His campaign message? Only once Britain leaves the EU can it build new trade ties
with countries like the U.S. That’s something his main rival, the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn, has been warning voters against, saying Johnson’s deal
with the United States would lead to the destruction of the country’s cherished
public health service. – You’re gonna sell our
National Health Service out to the United States and big pharma. – [Narrator] That’s
something Johnson has denied. – This is an absolute invention. – [Narrator] But even if
Jeremy Corbyn has been trying to steer the debate towards other issues, and although a recent terrorist attack has made security a major
talking point in the campaign, Brexit remains center stage. The Labour Party is campaigning
for a second referendum. – Very clear, three months to negotiate, six months for a referendum, and that will bring
that process to an end. – [Narrator] And a cluster
of small anti-Brexit parties are unifying to fight against
Conservative constituencies. Johnson has his own allies, like the smaller
Euro-skeptic Brexit Party. – The Brexit Party will not contest the 317 seats the Conservatives
won at the last election. – [Narrator] For now, the
odds seem in Johnson’s favor. He’s leading in the polls, but if the stakes for the
prime minister are high, they’re even higher for the country. The result of this
election may shape British and European politics for years to come. (dramatic piano and orchestral music)

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