Boris Johnson pledges to 'heal the divisions of Brexit' in Downing Street speech

13 December 2019, 16:43

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside 10 Downing Street
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside 10 Downing Street. Picture: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to heal the divisions of Brexit, as he returned to Downing Street after his historic General Election victory.

Speaking outside No 10 after the crushing win over Labour, Mr Johnson said he had an "overwhelming mandate" to take Britain out of the EU by the end of January.

But at the same time he sought to reach out to Remainers, insisting his "One Nation" government would never ignore their feelings of "warmth and sympathy" towards the other nations of Europe.

He said: "Now is the moment, precisely as we leave the EU, to let those natural feelings find renewed expression in building a new partnership, which is one of the great projects for next year.

“As we work together with the EU as friends and sovereign equals in tackling climate change and terrorism, in building academic and scientific cooperation, redoubling our trading relationship, I frankly urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin.”

The Prime Minister said the NHS would be one of his central priorities as he starts a five-year term in office.

Mr Johnson added: "I believe - in fact, I know because I heard it loud and clear from every corner of the country - that the overwhelming priority of the British people now is that we should focus, above all, on the NHS - that beautiful idea that represents the best of our country."

He said he would deliver the disputed pledges of the "biggest ever cash boost", along with 50,000 more nurses and 40 new hospitals.

The PM leaves No 10 to make his speech
The PM leaves No 10 to make his speech. Picture: PA

With all 650 seats declared, the Conservatives had a majority of 80 - the party's strongest election performance since Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s – with 364 seats.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has decided to stand down in the next few months, opting not to lead the party into another election.

Other key moments from the night included the swing from Labour to the Tories in the bellwether constituency of Workington and Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson narrowly losing her seat to the SNP.

The Tories took a succession of key Labour strongholds in the early results, winning seats in Blyth Valley, Wrexham, Burnley, Darlington, Workington - all traditional Labour heartland seats before 3am.

Jeremy Corbyn will not lead Labour into another election
Jeremy Corbyn will not lead Labour into another election. Picture: PA

Former minister Caroline Flint lost Don Valley and rising Labour star Laura Pidcock lost Durham North West, also to the Tories.

Although the Labour vote held up better in London, where it took Putney from the Tories, the party lost Kensington, one of its most celebrated wins in 2017, when the Tories took the seat back by a margin of 150 votes.

The night was only going to go one way after the exit poll at 10pm showed that the Conservatives were expected to win with a significant majority.