PM Johnson promises a bold new Brexit deal
July 24 2019 06:13 PM
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party, Boris Johnson
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party, Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London


*Vows to quit EU by end of October, come what may

Boris Johnson promised in his first speech as prime minister to lead Britain out of the European Union on October 31 with "no ifs or buts" and warned that if the European Union refused to negotiate then there would be a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson, who has been hailed by US President Donald Trump as Britain's Trump, is sending the strongest message yet to the EU that he will be taking a distinctly tougher approach to negotiating a revision of the Brexit divorce deal.

He took over from Theresa May at one of the most perilous junctures in post-World War Two British history - the United Kingdom is divided over Brexit and weakened by the three-year political crisis that has gripped it since a 2016 referendum vote to leave the bloc.

"We are going to fulfill the repeated promises of parliament to the people and come out of the EU on October 31, no ifs or buts," Johnson, 55, said after arriving at the premier's official residence, No.10 Downing Street.

"We can do a deal without checks at the Irish border," he said. "It is of course vital at the same time that we prepare for the remote possibility that Brussels refuses any further to negotiate and we are forced to come out with no deal."

Just hours after arriving in Downing Street, the new Conservative Prime Minister began work with one of the biggest culls of senior government jobs in recent British history, changing all of the main ministers. Most of his appointees were Brexit supporters.

Johnson's bet is that the threat of a no-deal Brexit will persuade the EU's biggest powers - Germany and France - to agree to revise the divorce deal that May agreed last November but failed to push through the British parliament.

The gambit, an admission that three years of Brexit talks have failed, sets the United Kingdom up for a showdown with the EU and thrusts Johnson towards a potential constitutional crisis, or an election, at home. He has just 99 days to renegotiate and ratify the so called Withdrawal Agreement that the EU has repeatedly refused to amend.

Many investors say a no-deal Brexit would send shock waves through the world economy, tip Britain's economy into a recession, roil financial markets and weaken London’s position as the pre-eminent international financial centre.

"To all those who continue to prophesy disaster, I say yes - there will be difficulties though I believe that with energy and application they will be far less serious than some have claimed," Johnson said in his speech, watched by his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, and his staff.

Declared new leader of the Conservative Party on Tuesday after a vote by party members, Johnson began forming his government from Brexit supporters.

Sajid Javid was named as his finance minister. Priti Patel was appointed interior minister. Dominic Raab was appointed foreign minister. Stephen Barclay remained as Brexit minister. Ben Wallace was made defence minister.

Earlier May appeared to be fighting back tears as she was applauded out of the House of Commons chamber.

Last updated: July 24 2019 10:55 PM

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