Boris Johnson vs. Jeremy Corbyn: U.K. Military Power in the Balance as Election Looms

David Axe

The general election in the United Kingdom on Dec. 12, 2019 could result in major changes for the British military -- in particular, the Royal Navy.

Iain Ballantyne, a naval historian and editor of Warships International Fleet Review, isn’t optimistic. “There are some who will likely do less damage than others,” Ballantyne wrote at his magazine’s website.

Military issues have not prominently featured in the campaigning of any of the leading political parties since Prime Minister Boris Johnson, from the Conservative Party, on Oct. 24, 2019 called for an election.

Johnson has suffered several defeats in Parliament over his plan quickly to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union -- the so-called “Brexit.”

Johnson has threatened to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union with or without concessions from the union that could stave off serious economic harm in the United Kingdom resulting from the country’s loss of easy access to Europe’s markets. But parliamentary defectors from Johnson’s own party doomed the prime minister’s “no-deal” Brexit.

The December 2019 election could determine whether, and how, the United Kingdom finally exits the European Union. That and other issues have trumped military readiness in the lead-up to the countrywide vote.

Recent polling has the Conservatives receiving 39 percent of the vote, versus 33 percent for the left-leaning Labor Party and five percent for the center-left Liberal Democrats. A party must receive win a majority of seats in parliament in order to form a single-party government.

“Brexit, the National Health Service, the environment and the end of austerity were the main issues the three major parties wished to discuss as the final phase in general election campaigning began,” Ballantyne noted. “There were, however, strident promises to ditch the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent emanating from nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland.”

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