Elections won, Boris Johnson focuses on Brexit

Updated: 17 December, 2019 08:43 IST | Agencies | London

The British prime minister is expected to carry out a limited cabinet re-shuffle, but his main focus is fulfilling his promise to get Britain out of the EU by next month

Larry the 10 Downing Street cat waits to enter the house as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a mandate to ensure Britain exits the European Union. Pic/AFP
Larry the 10 Downing Street cat waits to enter the house as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a mandate to ensure Britain exits the European Union. Pic/AFP

London: Prime Minister Boris Johnson got down to work on Monday following his sweeping election victory, appointing ministers and announcing plans to publish legislation this week to get Britain out of the European Union.

The Conservative leader was expected to carry out a limited cabinet re-shuffle before welcoming new MPs to parliament following his landslide win in Thursday's general election. But his main focus is on fulfilling his promise to get Britain out of the European Union by the end of next month after years of acrimonious debate in parliament and across the nation.

Johnson will present legislation on Friday that begins the process of ratifying the divorce terms he struck with Brussels in October, his spokesman said. "The government has just been elected with a clear majority to deliver Brexit, and we're focused on passing the legislation to ensure that happens by January 31," he said.

Johnson's simple promise to "get Brexit done" resonated in a snap election Thursday that for many became a re-run of Britain's 2016 EU membership referendum. A narrow majority had opted to leave the EU back then but was followed by years of debate in parliament over how — or even when — Britain should end almost five decades of integration with its closest neighbours.

Johnson declared the argument settled when his Conservatives won 44 percent of the vote on Thursday, giving it a majority of 80 in the 650-seat Commons — its biggest since the heyday of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

The main opposition Labour party meanwhile was relegated to its worst defeat since before World War II, forcing leader Jeremy Corbyn to announce a plan for his departure. Johnson is only expected to tinker around the edges of his current government and conduct a real overhaul once the first stage of Brexit is safely out of the way.

London and Brussels will then have to embark on yet more negotiations aimed at striking new trade and security partnership. The withdrawal deal sets out a post-Brexit transition period until the end of 2020 to hold these talks, during which time UK-EU ties will remain broadly the same.

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First Published: 17 December, 2019 08:17 IST

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