Brexit: PM Johnson vows to take UK out of EU

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed that the first item on his agenda in 2020 is to fulfil the will of the electorate and to conclude the UK's divorce deal with the European Union within this month.

In his new year message, Johnson, who is currently on holiday in the Caribbean, said he hoped the country would "move forward united" after it leaves the 28-member bloc on January 31.

Johnson, who was re-elected in the December 12 General Elections said the "first item on his agenda" when he returned to London was delivering on the mandate of the people and taking the UK out of the EU.

He vowed to govern "for everyone", not just those who backed him and the Conservative Party at the highly-divisive polls.

"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," he said.

The Conservatives' resounding election victory has "driven an electoral bulldozer" through the deadlock in Parliament, the prime minister said, and offered a way out of the "division, rancour and uncertainty" surrounding the Brexit debate since the landmark 2016 referendum vote.

Legislation to ratify the withdrawal agreement with the EU easily cleared its first hurdle before Christmas when MPs backed it by a majority of 124.

With an 80-seat Conservative majority in the House of Commons, the remaining stages of the bill are expected to be completed quickly in January in time, he PM said, to "get Brexit done before the end of this month".

"We can start a new chapter in the history of our country, in which we come together and move forward united, unleashing the enormous potential of the British people," he said.

He noted that Britain's exit from the EU 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".

"Now we have a new Parliament, elected by the people to deliver the people's priorities, which will finally respect the referendum and deliver Brexit," the 55-year-old prime minister said.

"We will get Brexit done before the end of this month. That oven-ready deal I talked about so much during the election campaign has already had its plastic covering pierced and been placed in the microwave," he said.

While the UK is set to leave the EU's institutions on January 31, negotiations over its future economic relationship with the bloc have yet to begin, with experts quoted by the BBC saying they will be far tougher than those over the terms of the UK's exit.

Johnson has set himself a deadline of completing an ambitious trade deal by the end of 2020 when the 11-month transition period agreed by the two sides ends. Many leading EU figures have cast doubt upon the tight timetable and questioned the Prime Minister's ruling out of any extension.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn, the vanquished leader of the Opposition Labour Party, in his new year message, acknowledged that the party faced tough times ahead after its fourth defeat in a row but its movement remained "very strong".

In his new year message, Corbyn did not make any direct reference to the election rout or his own future. However, he noted that 2019 had been "quite the year for our country and for our Labour movement".

The Labour just got 203 seats, a disastrous performance for the party in decades that forced the 70-year-old leader to announce that he would not lead the party in the next election.

While the party is set to be out of power for at least another four years, he said Labour must continue to make its influence felt and stand up for its values.

"It won't be easy," he said. "But we have built a movement. We are the resistance to Boris Johnson. We will be campaigning every day. We will be on the front line, both in Parliament and on the streets."

With the contest to succeed him expected to take about three months, Corbyn is set to continue leading the party in Parliament and the country until the spring. 

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