LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Friday for “closure” over the Brexit divisions that have riven the United Kingdom, saying his election victory provided an overwhelming mandate to take Britain out of the European Union on Jan. 31.
Johnson, the face of the victorious “Leave” campaign in the 2016 referendum, fought the election under the slogan of “Get Brexit Done”, promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and the police.
He was vindicated with the biggest Conservative win since Margaret Thatcher’s landslide victory of 1987, trouncing his socialist Labour Party opponent Jeremy Corbyn by winning 365 seats with a majority of 80. Labour won 203 seats.
Ever since the referendum, Brexit has divided the United Kingdom and fuelled soul-searching about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, empire and modern Britishness.
Johnson called for the healing to begin.
“I frankly urge everyone on either side of what are, after 3.5 years, an increasingly arid argument, I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin,” Johnson said outside his residence at 10 Downing Street.
“I know that after five weeks, frankly, of electioneering, this country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from politics and a permanent break from talking about Brexit.”
With such a big majority, Johnson will now swiftly ratify the Brexit deal he struck with the EU so that the United Kingdom can leave on Jan. 31 – 10 months later than initially planned.
Both opponents and supporters of Brexit agree that it is the United Kingdom’s most significant geopolitical move since World War Two, pitching the world’s fifth largest economy, and one of the pillars of the West, into an uncertain future.