UK: As Brexit looms, PM Boris Johnson sends upbeat New Year message

UK: As Brexit looms, PM Boris Johnson sends upbeat New Year message

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As the Big Ben chimed and heralded 2020 at midnight, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday set out what he called a ‘fantastic agenda’ in a ‘remarkable decade’ as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union on January 31.

Seeking unity among those who supported or opposed Brexit, Johnson, who led the Conservative party to a landslide election win in December, said the bongs of the Big Ben ushering the new year and decade were “the starting gun being fired” for much to follow.

The UK is due to technically leave the EU on January 31, but will move into a ‘transition’ phase until December 31, during which nothing much will change in practice, with the UK continuing to be an EU member but not joining debates, plans and talks in Brussels. New trade and other arrangements are expected to be finalised during the transition phase.

Johnson said in his message: “As we say goodbye to 2019 we can also turn the page on the division, rancour and uncertainty which has dominated public life and held us back for far too long. We can start a new chapter in the history of our country”.

“Of course the first item on my agenda is to fulfil the will of the electorate and take us out of the European Union. 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”.

Referring to the Conservative party winning many seats in areas traditionally supporting Labour, Johnson insisted that he will be a prime minister for everyone and promised to deliver on the trust reposed by non-Tory voters.

He said: “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. I am also acutely aware that there are millions of people who did not vote for me and were disappointed by the result”.

“If you are one of them, I want to reassure you that I will be a Prime Minister for everyone, not just those who voted for me. I know that you love this country no less, simply because you voted for another party or wanted to Remain. More than that, I want to work with you, as friends and equals, as we build the future this United Kingdom deserves”.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was panned by party members and supporters for his new year message that did not mention the party’s catastrophic general election result, saying only that it had been “quite the year”.

According to Corbyn, the party was now ‘the resistance’ to Johnson’s government, but Phil Wilson, who lost in the Labour stronghold of Sedgefield (long held by Tony Blair) tweeted: “No Jeremy Corbyn you are not part of the resistance to Boris Johnson you are one of enablers of Boris Johnson.”__Hindustan Times

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