Welcoming new lawmakers, Johnson vows a speedy Brexit


LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will welcome 109 new Conservative lawmakers to parliament on Monday, promising to honour his election pledges to get Brexit done as soon as possible and boost funding to the state health service.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a statement at Downing Street after winning the general election, in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

After winning a commanding majority in last week’s election, Johnson will seek to speed up the approval by parliament of his withdrawal agreement with the European Union, and to start ploughing money into health, education and policing.

The premier, 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 (members of parliament) that have resulted from Labour towns turning blue will help change our politics for the better,” said a source in Johnson’s Downing Street official residence said.

“The PM 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.”

Johnson’s government is expected to bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill back to parliament before Christmas, to allow Britain to exit the EU by Jan. 31, his ministers have said. Then it will try to secure a trade agreement with the bloc before the end of next year.

In a Queen’s Speech on Thursday setting out his government’s programme, he will also promise more funds for Britain’s much-loved but struggling public health service – a pledge he plans to enshrine in law.

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 scrambled traditional party loyalties, with Johnson’s Conservatives going into 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 sides to the Conservatives.

Johnson has said he understands that many traditional Labour voters had only lent his party their votes – but now he wants to keep them.

“By getting Brexit done, this One Nation Conservative government will help this country move forward,” the source said. “Our job is to serve the people of this country, and the people’s government will deliver on the people’s priorities.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Pravin Char

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