LONDON: Boris Johnson launched his premiership with a bid to do a bold new Brexit deal with the EU by Oct. 31, rebuking “gloomsters” and the political class who he said had forgotten the people who they should serve.
Johnson took office on Wednesday, replacing Theresa May who stepped down having failed to deliver Brexit or implement many of the reforms she promised when taking office in 2016.
He comes to power at a time of national crisis, promising Britain will leave the EU at the end of October but with little sign that Brussels will bend to his demand to sweeten the terms of the country’s departure.
“We are going to fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people and come out of the EU on Oct. 31. No ifs or buts,” he said.
“We will do a new deal, a better deal that will maximize the opportunities of Brexit while allowing us to develop a new and exciting partnership with the rest of Europe.”
But, in a 12-minute speech outside glossy black door to the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, Johnson delivered a thrusting rebuke to those who have criticized his planned approach as light on detail and heavy on rhetoric.
“The doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters — they are going to get it wrong again,” Johnson said, rocking up on the balls of his feet as he spoke.
“The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts.”
Casting aside his trademark clownish demeanor and rambling delivery, he followed a written script, setting out an ambitious agenda beyond Brexit — promising tax reform, a new social care system, and an economic stimulus package.
“I will tell you something else about my job. It is to be Prime Minister of the whole United Kingdom and that means uniting our country answering at last the plea of the forgotten people and the left behind towns,” he said.
Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt was leaving the role and will not serve in new Johnson’s team of senior ministers, she said on Wednesday.
“I’m heading to the backbenches from where the PM will have my full support,” Mordaunt, a Brexit supporter who backed Johnson’s opponent Jeremy Hunt in the leadership race, said on Twitter.
While Johnson has said he does not want an early election, some MPs have vowed to thwart any attempt to leave the EU without a divorce deal.
Nigel Farage, whose Brexit Party trounced the Conservatives in May’s EU elections, said he was open to an electoral pact with the new prime minister.