Johnson vows to waste no time in delivering Brexit

In New Year message, he also pledges more funding for education, healthcare, science

LONDON • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to "waste no time" in delivering Brexit before moving on to the "people's priorities" of funding schools and hospitals.

In his New Year message, Mr Johnson promised to complete Britain's divorce from the European Union by the end of this month, repeating the campaign message that saw his Conservative Party win its largest majority in more than three decades in the Dec 12 general election.

"The necessary legislation has already begun its passage through Parliament and, once MPs return to Westminster, we'll waste no time in finishing the job," Mr Johnson said.

Before the Christmas recess, his Brexit deal with Brussels easily cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons, and its ratification this month is expected to be a formality.

He appealed for the country to "turn the page on the division, rancour and uncertainty which have dominated public life", and said that the 2020s promise to be a "remarkable decade" for Britain.

Mr Johnson appears determined to try to retain the Labour voters who switched to the Conservatives this time, enabling the Tories to win seats in the main opposition party's traditional strongholds in northern and central England.

Funding the state-run National Health Service "will always be my top priority", the Prime Minister said, parking his tanks firmly in an area where Labour is typically perceived to hold an advantage.

"I know that many of you do not consider yourself natural Tories and may only have lent me your vote. I am humbled by your support and will work every day to keep it," he said.

"I want to reassure you that I will be a prime minister for everyone, not just those who voted for me."

Mr Johnson said that the bongs of Big Ben at midnight were the starting gun being fired on what promises to be a fantastic year and a remarkable decade for Britain, urging people of Britain to join together to make the 2020s a decade of prosperity and opportunity.

Speaking of taking Britain out of the EU, he said: "This should have happened already, but we were thwarted by a Parliament determined to use every trick in the book to stop us leaving the EU."

FINISHING THE JOB

The necessary legislation has already begun its passage through Parliament and, once MPs return to Westminster, we'll waste no time in finishing the job.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON

Mr Johnson said that the rancour and uncertainty had dominated public life and held the country back for far too long.

"We can start a new chapter in the history of our country, in which we come together and move forward united, unleashing the enormous potential of the British people," he added.

"We can finally spend 2020 getting on with delivering on the people's priorities: boosting the National Health Service (NHS) with the biggest cash injection in its history, renewing schools, backing scientists, building better infrastructure, controlling immigration, making our streets safer, cleaning up our environment, and making our union stronger."

Mr Johnson said that one of the government's first actions will be to pass a Bill enshrining in law a record funding settlement for the NHS, providing an extra £34 billion (S$60.7 billion) a year.

"We will undertake the largest hospital building programme in living memory," he added, promising a boost in education and cutting-edge science.

British politicians will return next week to the House of Commons to continue the passage through Parliament of Mr Johnson's Brexit Bill to end Britain's nearly-half-a-century membership in the EU.

BLOOMBERG, XINHUA

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2020, with the headline 'Johnson vows to waste no time in delivering Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe