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Palgrave Macmillan

The British General Election of 2019

  • Book
  • © 2021


  • Provides the authoritative account of the 2019 British General Election
  • Brings together four of Britain’s leading political scientists as well as an outstanding team of contributors for the guest chapters on specialist topics
  • 21st volume in the prestigious British General Election series launched by R. B. McCallum in 1945 and continued by Sir David Butler

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Table of contents (16 chapters)


About this book

The British General Election of 2019 is the definitive account of one of the most consequential and controversial general elections in recent times, when Boris Johnson gambled everything calling an early election to 'Get Brexit Done', and emerged triumphant. Drawing upon cutting-edge research and wide-ranging elite interviews, the new author team provides a compelling and accessible narrative of this landmark election and its implications for British politics, built on unparalleled access to all the key players, and married up to first-class data analysis. The 21st volume in a prestigious series dating back to 1945, it offers something for everyone from Westminster insiders and politics students to the interested general reader.


“If we journalists write the first draft of history, we rely on academia to produce the definitive version when it comes to General Elections. The authors of The British General Election of 2019 are the experts we—and the nation—need to tell us what really happened and to explain why. Never has this been more important. This was a truly transformative election, as Boris Johnson assembled a new winning Conservative coalition of voters and a record number of inexperienced MPs ended up in Parliament. Painstakingly and perceptively, this essential book exposes the sources of what is going on in British politics today.” (Adam Boulton, Editor at Large, Sky News) 

“An exhaustive, well-researched, informative and highly readable account. A must for anyone who wants to understand British politics.” (Stephen Bush, Political Editor, New Statesman) 

“An invaluable account, superbly researched, of one of the most significant periods of modern British political history. Historians will look back one day in wonder that the UK of all places came to be so infected by the virus of populism that Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. This will be an important part of that story. A must-read for anyone wanting to understand how Brexit, a changed Labour Party and a changed Tory Party combined to give the Tories a majority they are now exploiting to the full, and Labour a disastrous defeat from which they are struggling to recover.” (Alastair Campbell, Editor at Large, New European) 

“A comprehensive romp through the dramatic run-up to the 2019 general election, the culmination of several electrifying years which transformed British politics. From Getting Brexit Done, through Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to the state of the Union, the authors tell the compelling story of an election that fundamentally redrew the political map. Packed with anecdotes, data and analysis, this is a must read for anybody who wants to understands what comes next.” (Pippa Crerar, Political Editor of the Daily Mirror) 

“To be able to identify every tree but never lose sight of the wood is a very difficult skill, but one these authors possess. The result is an adornment to the important series to which this book belongs. A consequential account of a consequential election.” (Daniel Finkelstein, Times Columnist, Conservative Member of the House of Lords and Chair of Onward think tank) 

“This is such a fascinating, detailed and well-sourced account that anyone wanting to go near another election should not only read it but keep it as a talisman against making the same mistakes again. It’s a rare mix of authoritative and funny.” (Isabel Hardman, Assistant Editor, The Spectator and Author of Why We Get The Wrong Politicians) 

“A riveting read, explaining the deep currents running through the 2019 “Brexit election” and the way the country’s political map was changed beyond recognition. Fresh insights from the people in the room bring this remarkable story to life.” (George Parker, Political Editor of the Financial Times) 

“This is more than the definitive study of the last general election: it is a map and compass for anyone trying to navigate the politics that that event has bequeathed us, including the remaking of the Conservative coalition and Labour’s steady decline. Existing evidence, new interviews and analysis are bound together tightly but with flair and verve. The book, justly, will serve as a resource for any student of politics for years to come.” (Gabriel Pogrund, Whitehall Correspondent, The Sunday Times and Author of Left Out) 

“The British General Election series has charted the ebbs and flows of electoral politics for three-quarters of a century. The new team maintain the standard of their predecessors with a mix of shrewd judgement, pertinent comment, and robust statistical analysis.” (Colin Rallings, Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Plymouth) 

“The authoritative account by an alpha team of political scientists. Lucid explanation of complex events and forces is combined with penetrating analysis of the causes and effects of a highly consequential election.” (Andrew Rawnsley, Chief Political Commentator of The Observer and Author of The End of the Party) 

“This is the definitive guide to one of the most important elections in British history. It is full of the best insights, inside accounts of the thinking of the different parties, and what is now established as the best statistical analysis led by Professor Sir John Curtice. The new authors have managed to maintain and even enhance the authority of the long-running series, which is now as essential a part of the British election tradition as the motorcade to Buckingham Palace for the winner to be invited to form a government.” (John Rentoul, Chief Political Commentator, The Independent) 

“This book provides the definitive study of the 2019 UKGeneral Election. It is brilliantly written in easy accessible language, and yet it simultaneously offers a sophisticated statistical analysis of the increasingly fractured and complex landscape of British electoral politics. It should be compulsory reading for anyone who wishes to understand both the electoral result in 2019 and the likely prospects of the major parties in the future.” (David Sanders FBA, Professor of Government, University of Essex) 

“From the role of Brexit, to perceptions of the party leaders, to the election’s consequences: this is the authoritative account of the 2019 general election campaign and is required reading for anyone with an interest in contemporary British politics.” (Sonia Sodha, Columnist and Leader Writer, The Observer) 

“UK’s foremost elections experts. How Boris Johnson was able to bulldoze his way to a majority; what went wrong for Jeremy Corbyn, and much else besides. A must-read.” (Heather Stewart, Political Editor, The Guardian) 

“This book is essential reading for anyone wanting to get under the skin of the most consequential election for decades. The authors marshal a wide range of essential sources with political nous to provide key insights into the Brexit maelstrom out of which the election sprang, and the dramatic realignment which voters then delivered. This is a foundational text for understanding a political revolution which will continue to play out for years to come.” (Mark Wallace, CEO, ConservativeHome) 

“The decade just passed had no fewer than four extraordinary elections. For those who want to understand what each of them meant, the Palgrave Macmillan guides are nothing of seminal- allowing us to under-stand what really mattered, what really happened amid the ever amplifying noise. The 2019 edition is no exception and given it coüvers perhaps the most significant election of the four, it’s the most important. Perhaps the most frequent question I’m asked by exasperated viewers and readers is ‘what the hell has happened in politics?’- from now on I’ll simply refer them to this book.” ((Lewis Goodall, BBC’s Newsnight and Author of Left for Dead? The Strange Death and Rebirth of the Labour Party) 

“An unmissable retelling of one of the most complex and politically brutal periods we may ever know, and how it shaped the political landscape we have today.” (Kate McCann, Political Correspondent at Sky) 

“The latest volume in a series that has long been the gold standard for election books contains all the facts and figures for 2019 that political buffs will ever need.  It’s also packed with nuggets and insights that make it a joy to read. If you love politics, buy this book or your shelves will be emptier than a politician’s promise.” (Tim Shipman, Political Editor, Sunday Times and author of All Out War and Fall Out)

Authors and Affiliations

  • University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

    Robert Ford

  • School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

    Tim Bale

  • School of Economic, Social and Political Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

    Will Jennings

  • University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

    Paula Surridge

About the authors

Robert Ford is Professor of Political Science at Manchester University, UK.

Tim Bale is Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London, UK.

Will Jennings is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Southampton, UK.

Paula Surridge is Senior Lecturer in Political Sociology at the University of Bristol, UK.    

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