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Johnson on the campaign trail. Photo: Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson exceeded all expectations in Thursday's U.K. general election, and his landslide victory makes the U.K. all but certain to exit the European Union early next year.

Driving the news: With 649 out of 650 constituencies reporting, the Conservatives won 364 seats, securing the biggest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher's 1987 victory. It's an utter disaster for the opposition Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has announced he will step down after a "period of reflection."

By the numbers so far (with the change from 2017's results):

  • Conservatives: 364 seats (+47)
  • Labour: 203 (-59)
  • Scottish National Party (SNP): 48 (+13)
  • Liberal Democrats: 11 (-1)
  • Brexit: 0 (0)

Why it matters: After years of political gridlock, this election has ended the debate over whether the U.K. will be leaving the EU while reshaping the U.K.'s political map.

  • This result is a massive vindication for Johnson — long mocked and little trusted, but now set to steer the U.K. through what should be a crucial five years for the country.
  • Labour is now entering into a power struggle, with Corbyn's allies intent on keeping control of the party within their hard-left flank. The party membership is on their side, but the national electorate clearly wasn't.
  • This was also a collapse for the Liberal Democrats, which campaigned hard on stopping Brexit. In the end, party leader Jo Swinson couldn't win her own seat.

How he did it: Johnson was successful on three closely connected fronts:

  1. Centering the election around Brexit and his oft-repeated message: "Get Brexit done."
  2. Uniting the "Leave" (anti-Brexit) vote behind him, while the "Remain" vote was split.
  3. Flipping long-held Labour seats, particularly in the north of England, where most voters backed "Leave" in 2016.

What to watch: The other big winner last night was the pro-independence Scottish National Party, which took 48 of Scotland's 59 seats.

  • The SNP wants another independence referendum. While Scotland voted to remain in the U.K. in 2014, it also voted overwhelmingly against Brexit — leading to speculation the result would be different this time.
  • Johnson is opposed to the idea of a second referendum.

Go deeper

Hill votes will make global waves

President Biden addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)

This epic week for President Biden on Capitol Hill is even bigger than his domestic agenda.

Why it matters: Biden has anchored his entire strategy for foreign affairs on the notion that "America is back." What that means in practice is that Biden needs to prove democracy works to rally America’s liberal allies against rising authoritarians.

3 hours ago - World

German election: Exit polls show close race to succeed Angela Merkel

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The first exit poll from Sunday's German elections showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in a dead heat at 25%, leaving the race to succeed Angela Merkel too close to call.

The state of play: A second exit poll showed the SPD narrowly ahead. That's the one televisions displayed at SPD headquarters in Berlin, where the room erupted into cheers. Official results will roll in throughout the evening.

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents on horseback if they're fired

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: Abbott's remark on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.