If everyone has a mandate… surely nobody has a mandate?

Shephard, Mark Peter; Jackson, Daniel and Thorsen, Einar and Lilleker, Darren and Weidhase, Nathalie, eds. (2019) If everyone has a mandate… surely nobody has a mandate? In: UK Election Analysis 2019. The Centre for Comparative Politics and Media Research, Poole, UK, p. 74. ISBN 978-1-910042-23-6

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Abstract

In his victory statement to the media, Boris Johnson asserted that, “...we will get Brexit done...delivering on the democratic mandate of the people” (Source: BBC news online). Surrounding Boris during his victory statement, the Conservatives proclaimed in logos that they were ‘The People’s Government’. Later the same day, Boris’s media message from Number 10 had strengthened to “an overwhelming mandate from this election to get Brexit done” (Source: BBC news online). With 365 seats out of 650 the Conservatives had captured 56% of the seats. Presumably ‘The People’, who had voted 52% in favour of Brexit, were now 56% in favour of the ‘get Brexit done’ Conservative Party. However, the mandate for Brexit derived from 37.4% of the total electorate voting for leave in 2016, and the mandate for the Conservatives in 2019 was even worse at 29.3% of the total electorate. Moreover, the EURef2 poll of polls (source: whattheukthinks.org) suggests that average support for Brexit (2016 to 2019) is 53% remain versus 47% leave. So where is the mandate from ‘The People’?