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British PM Boris Johnson pledges to 'waste no time' in delivering Brexit in 2020

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Boris Johnson pledged to "waste no time" in delivering Brexit, before moving on to the "people's priorities" of funding schools and hospitals.

[LONDON] Boris Johnson pledged to "waste no time" in delivering Brexit, before moving on to the "people's priorities" of funding schools and hospitals.

In his New Year message, the prime minister promised to complete the UK's divorce from the European Union by the end of January, repeating the campaign message that saw his Conservative Party win its largest majority in more than three decades in the Dec 12 general election.

"The necessary legislation has already begun its passage through Parliament and, once MPs return to Westminster, we'll waste no time in finishing the job," Mr Johnson said. Before the Christmas recess, his Brexit deal with Brussels easily cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons, and its ratification in January is expected to be a formality.

He appealed for the country to "turn the page on the division, rancor and uncertainty which has dominated public life," and said the 2020s promise to be a "remarkable decade" for the UK.

Mr Johnson appears determined to try to retain the Labour voters who switched to the Conservatives this time, enabling the Tories to win seats in the main opposition party's traditional strongholds in northern and central England. Funding the state-run National Health Service "will always be my top priority", the prime minister said, parking his tanks firmly in an area where Labour is typically perceived to hold an advantage.

"I know that many of you do not consider yourself natural Tories and may only have lent me your vote. I am humbled by your support and will work every day to keep it," Mr Johnson said. "I want to reassure you that I will be a prime minister for everyone, not just those who voted for me."

BLOOMBERG