LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed 109 new Conservative lawmakers to Parliament yesterday, promising to honour his election-winning pledges to get Brexit done as soon as possible and boost funding for the state health service. After securing a commanding majority in last week’s vote, Johnson will seek to speed up approval by Parliament of his withdrawal agreement with the European Union, and start ploughing money into health, education and the police.
Britain will enter talks with the bloc from next February to thrash out a new trade deal before a formal end to the transition period at the end of December next year. Brussels has indicated that a comprehensive agreement may not be possible in such a short timeframe. Johnson’s spokesman reiterated that the Prime Minister wanted to pursue a Canada-style free trade agreement.
Johnson, who won over many traditional supporters of the main opposition Labour Party in northern and central England, has proclaimed he will lead a people’s government and repay the public’s trust by getting Brexit done. This election and the new generation of MPs that have resulted from Labour towns turning blue will help change our politics for the better,” said a source in Mr Johnson’s Downing Street official residence.
The Prime Minister has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public’s trust by getting Brexit done. The government will bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill back to Parliament on Friday, but it is not yet clear whether there will be a vote because it needs the agreement of the House of Commons’ new Speaker.
But with such a large majority, Johnson is expected to get the Bill through Parliament by his deadline. The priority is to leave the EU on Jan 31 next year and then secure a trade agreement with the bloc before the end of next year, Johnson’s spokesman said. We plan to start the process before Christmas and we will do so in the proper constitutional way in discussion with the Speaker,” he said, adding that the Brexit Bill would reflect the agreement made with the EU.
In the Queen’s Speech on Thursday setting out his government’s programme, Johnson will also promise more funds for Britain’s much-loved but struggling public health service – a pledge he plans to enshrine in law. The pomp and ceremony surrounding the speech will be less lavish than usual because Queen Elizabeth last formally opened Parliament just two months ago for what turned out to be a session cut short by a vote for an early election.
After more than three years of debate over Brexit, Johnson wants to move quickly to try to unite a country riven by disagreements over how, when or whether Britain should leave the EU.
Towns, villages and even families have been fractured. Brexit has also scrambled traditional party loyalties, with Johnson’s Conservatives going into last Thursday’s election pledging a swift Brexit, in stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, which promised a second referendum on EU membership.
The election saw Labour suffer its worst result since 1935 as many of its supporters who wanted to leave the EU switched to the Conservatives. The opposition party is expected to appoint a new leader by early next year. Johnson is keen to hold on to those voters who supported the Conservatives, many for the first time, and is likely to retool his government next year to deliver his election promises.
For now, the Prime Minister will appoint three new ministers to fill vacant positions and keep any changes to a minimum before Britain leaves the EU on Jan 31. By getting Brexit done, this One Nation Conservative government will help this country move forward, the Downing Street source said. Our job is to serve the people of this country, and the people’s government will deliver on the people’s priorities.