Results bearing the news of the historic win were watched avidly by UK expats living in Thailand and worldwide and the wider foreign expat community which has also felt a new excitement about politics no matter what side of the political divide, since the historic polls of 2016 which saw Brexit passed in the United Kingdom and US President Donald Trump elected that November.
Boris Johnson and the Conservatives have resoundingly won the UK election and it means good news for Thailand’s economic prospects in the short and medium-term.
Boris Johnson on Friday visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace in London and asked for permission to form a new government. It follows a convincing win in Thursday’s snap UK General Election in which the Conservative Party achieved a commanding commons majority which allows the UK prime minister to pass the Brexit Bill before Christmas leaving the way clear for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union by January 31st next.
Most resounding win since Thatcher in 1987
It is the most resounding Conservative win since Margaret Thatcher’s victory in 1987 and left the Labour Party reeling losing 44 seats even in opposition, falling to the worst election performance since 1935.
In spite of this and a growing chorus from within his party to resign, Jeremy Corbyn, while he did promise that he would not lead Labour into the next General Election, has not stepped down from his position as leader of the party.
This position may be increasingly untenable as the full extent of Labour’s election disaster is becoming apparent with that party losing the support of working-class voters in the United Kingdom’s heartlands who voiced their support on Thursday again for Brexit.
Politics since 2016 has been closely watched by expats in Thailand on both sides of the political divide
For many British citizens living in Thailand, the election results night was watched avidly as the growing political controversy and tensions regarding the 2016 Brexit vote occupied the minds of expats as much if not more so that British nationals living and working in the UK.
For the wider expat community, a UK General Election along with the US Presidential election ranks as a singularly important political event.
Brexit referendum and the Trump victory were historic moments – western politics has changed
The referendum result in the United Kingdom in 2016 and the US presidential shock win by Donald Trump in November that year signalled that something very momentous is happening in the politics of the western world.
This tension and excitement is also felt here by foreigners living in Thailand not only from the UK and the United States but those from Europe and all developed western nations where there are growing questions about government policies and business as usual in politics. This true for German and France as it is also for Australia and Canada.
Many retired expats spent the morning watching the results as they poured in.
Impact on Thailand of last night’s triumph for the tories may be consequential in the medium term
For Thailand, the immediate effect of the election result is a positive one. First, it has sparked a rally in the value of the British pound against the Thai baht which will help Thailand’s exports and incidentally British expats and holidaymakers in Thailand.
The second important thing will be to put to bed fears built into international markets over Brexit. It will mean increased flows of capital to London as the investment in the UK has suffered because of the Brexit uncertainty which while it continues is now altogether on a more confident footing over the medium term.
Brexit along with the US President’s aggressive trade policies have had a hugely detrimental effect on Thailand’s economy which is very much export-dependent.
The dual combination of capital flight which has boosted the value of the Thai baht and trade turmoil led Thailand in 2019 to see a contraction of exports and a rapid slowdown in economic growth.
US-China deal may be another positive for Thai planners
The news on newswires on Friday also suggests that the first stage in US Chinese rapprochement may be in the offing as signalled by US President Trump over the last few days.
Speculation is that a deal may be unveiled in Beijing and signed by the key negotiators for both countries. It would another positive bit of news for Thailand’s economic leadership.
Any US-China deal, if announced, would still leave a large divide between the two countries with the continued possibility of a new crisis or an escalation to what is still an ongoing trade war always on the cards.
Growing support for the US President in spite of impeachment vote
As Boris Johnson signalled a ‘One Nation’ approach in his victory speech on Friday, there is also a growing appreciation that the trade policy pursued by the US President is bearing fruit even among the US House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi who recently signalled her support for revised trade pact with Mexico and strengthened trade union representation terms.