Irish nationalists won more seats in Westminster than the pro-Britain unionists of Northern Ireland did. A vocal proponent of Brexit, Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party, lost his seat. In Scotland, the Scottish National Party won 48 of 59 seats, leading the party’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon, to demand powers to call another referendum on Scottish independence.
The prime minister could be swayed as well by the fact that, however resounding his parliamentary victory, Britain remains deeply divided about Brexit. Indeed, parties that either oppose Brexit or want to rethink Britain’s departure won 52 percent of the total votes cast, while the Conservatives and other pro-Brexit parties won only 46 percent.
For the hundreds of thousands who thronged the streets of London to demand a second referendum, this election will be a bitter pill to swallow. Although the groups that campaigned for a do-over never found a narrative to counter Mr. Johnson’s call to “Get Brexit Done,” they are likely to mutate into some kind of “rejoin movement” that will continue to agitate.
Some analysts, however, are skeptical that Mr. Johnson will reverse course on Brexit. For one, agreeing to a closer alignment with the European Union would impose economic costs on Britain that would make it politically unpalatable for the Conservative Party. Moreover, Mr. Johnson is unlikely to pick a fight with his party’s establishment.
“Boris is part of the establishment,” Mr. Wright of Brookings said, “and Brexit is largely a Conservative establishment project.”
In his victory speech, Mr. Johnson voiced little sympathy for those who pined for a second referendum.
“This election means that getting Brexit done is now the irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people,” he declared. “I think we’ve put an end to all those miserable threats of a second referendum.”