Boris wins a second term

Mayor of London re-elected with a majority of 62,538.

In the end, it was closer, much closer, than many expected, but Boris Johnson has just won another four years in City Hall. In his valedictory address, a visibly emotional Ken Livingstone announced that he would not stand again for election, adding that this was the defeat he regretted the most because "these are the worst times for 80 years." Meanwhile, in yet another blow to the Liberal Democrats, Brian Paddick was pushed into fourth place by Green candidate Jenny Jones, a triumph for her party.

Below is the result in full. Boris's margin of victory was three per cent, a far smaller lead than predicted by the final polls (YouGov had him six points ahead, Populus 12). Yet with Labour around 15 points ahead in the London Assembly elections, the fact Boris won at all is a remarkable personal achievement.

First round

1. Boris Johnson (Conservative) 971,931 (44.01%)

2. Ken Livingstone (Labour) 889,918 (40.30%)

3. Jenny Jones (Green) 98,913 (4.48%)

4. Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat) 91,774 (4.16%)

5. Siobhan Benita (Independent) 83,914 (3.80)

6. Lawrence Webb (UKIP: Fresh Choice For London) 43,274 (1.96%)

7. Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) 28,751 (1.30%)

Second round

1. Boris Johnson 1,054,811 (51.53%)

2. Ken Livingstone 992,273 (48.47%)

Majority: 62,538 (3.06%)

Boris's re-election is an extraordinary feat. He has won again in London, a Labour city, at a time when the Conservatives are more unpopular than at any point since the general election and when the economy has double-dipped. The mayor's success owes more to his remarkable character than it does to his politics, but that won't stop Tory MPs urging David Cameron to emulate Boris's brand of unashamed conservatism. After all, Johnson has now won two elections. Cameron is yet to win one. The mayor has gained the largest personal mandate of any politician in Europe, bar the French president. That gives him considerable clout in the Conservative Party. Should he wish to return to the Commons in 2015, Tory MPs will happily make way for him. Although Boris has promised to serve a full-term, there is no constitutional obstacle to him combining the roles of MP and mayor. Indeed, there is a precedent. After the 2000 mayoral election, Ken Livingstone remained the MP for Brent East until 2001.

For Ed Miliband, Ken's defeat is a significant disappointment, the only stain on Labour's near-perfect night. But the scale of the party's gains elsewhere means that Boris's victory is much less of a problem for him than previously imagined. All observers are agreed that this was a defeat for Ken, who ran a calamitous campaign, not a defeat for Labour.

Boris Johnson speaks after the announcement of his victory in the London Mayoral elections as Ken Livingstone looks on. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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The Brexiteers have lost battles but they are still set to win the war

The prospect of the UK avoiding Brexit, or even a “hard” version, remains doubtful. 

Before the general election, the Brexiteers would boast that everything had gone their way. Parliament had voted to trigger Article 50 by a majority of 372. The Treasury-forecast recession hadn't occurred. And polls showed the public backing Brexit by a comfortable margin

But since the Conservatives' electoral humbling, the Leavers have been forced to retreat on multiple fronts. After promising in May that the dispute over the timetable for the Brexit talks would be "the fight of the summer", David Davis capitulated on the first day.

The UK will be forced to settle matters such as EU citizens' rights, the Irish border and the divorce bill before discussions begin on a future relationship. Having previously insisted that a new trade deal could agreed by 29 March 2019 (Britain's scheduled departure date), the Brexiteers have now conceded that this is, in Liam Fox's words, "optimistic" (translation: deluded). 

That means the transitional arrangement the Leavers once resisted is now regarded as inevitable. After the eradication of the Conservatives' majority, the insistence that "no deal is better than a bad deal" is no longer credible. No deal would mean the immediate return of a hard Northern Irish border (to the consternation of the Tories' partners the DUP) and, in a hung parliament, there are no longer the votes required to pursue a radical deregulatory, free market agenda (for the purpose of undercutting the EU). As importantly for the Conservatives, an apocalyptic exit could pave the way for a Jeremy Corbyn premiership (a figure they previously regarded as irretrievably doomed). 

Philip Hammond, emboldened by the humiliation of the Prime Minister who planned to sack him, has today outlined an alternative. After formally departing the EU in 2019, Britain will continue to abide by the rules of the single market and the customs union: the acceptance of free movement, European legal supremacy, continued budget contributions and a prohibition on independent trade deals. Faced with the obstacles described above, even hard Brexiteers such as Liam Fox and Michael Gove have recognised that the game is up.

But though they have lost battles, the Leavers are still set to win the war. There is no parliamentary majority for a second referendum (with the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats still enfeebled), Hammond has conceded that any transitional arrangement would end by June 2022 (the scheduled date of the next election) and most MPs are prepared to accept single market withdrawal. The prospect of Britain avoiding Brexit, or even a "hard" version, remains doubtful. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.