We’re leaving the EU at the end of October – no ifs or buts, vows PM

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 24, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 24, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Share this article

Boris Johnson used his first speech as Prime Minister to insist that Brexit will be delivered, and that he will give the country “the leadership it deserves”.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, the Tory leader said he would meet the October 31 deadline, “no ifs or buts”.

Just moments after entering Number 10 he revealed his ruthless edge by sacking several key ministers, including defence secretary Penny Mordaunt, housing secretary James Brokenshire and international trade secretary Liam Fox.

Watched by girlfriend Carrie Symonds, Mr Johnson promised he would “change this country for the better”.

Arriving in Downing Street after being invited by the Queen to form a government during an audience at Buckingham Palace, Mr Johnson vowed to prove the Brexit doubters wrong.

He said: “I am standing before you today, to tell you the British people, that those critics are wrong – the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters are going to get it wrong again.”

He predicted that “the people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts because we are going to restore trust in our democracy”.

He added: “And we are going to fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people and come out of the EU on October 31, no ifs or buts.

“And we will do a new deal, a better deal that will maximise the opportunities of Brexit while allowing us to develop a new and exciting partnership with the rest of Europe based on free trade and mutual support.

“I have every confidence that in 99 days’ time we will have cracked it.

“But you know what we aren’t going to wait 99 days, because the British people have had enough of waiting.

“The time has come to act, to take decisions, to give strong leadership and to change this country for the better.”

He promised action to fix the social care crisis, make the streets safe and improve the NHS.

He said: “I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see. Never mind the backstop, the buck stops here.”

But on the issue of the Irish border – the main stumbling block in reaching a Brexit deal – Mr Johnson said he was “convinced” a solution could be found without checks at the Irish border and without the “anti-democratic backstop”.

He added: “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.

“Not because we want that outcome, of course not, but because it is only common sense to prepare.”

In his Downing Street address, Mr Johnson was keen to set out a domestic agenda in order to ensure that his term in office is not defined by Brexit.

He confirmed his campaign pledge to put another 20,000 police on the streets and said that work would start this week on 20 new hospital upgrades. Mr Johnson also promised to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all” with a plan to give every older person “the dignity and security they deserve”.

Acknowledging the divisions in the country, Mr Johnson said he would answer the pleas of the “forgotten people and the left behind towns”, with investment in new transport links and infrastructure.

He also hailed the “awesome foursome” of the four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – “who together are so much more than the sum of their parts”.

Mr Johnson faces a difficult task as he attempts to govern with a majority of just two.

The opposition to a no-deal Brexit in the Commons will be bolstered by Mr Hammond, Mr Gauke and Mr Stewart now they are free of Cabinet collective responsibility.

David Lidington, who had been Mrs May’s effective deputy prime minister, also stood down as Mrs May resigned and said he had informed Mr Johnson of his decision, saying it was “the right moment to move on” after 20 years on the frontbench in government and opposition.

The influence of the successful Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum is becoming clear as Mr Johnson appoints his government.

Ms Patel was a leading player in the campaign and returns to government after she was forced by Mrs May to resign as international development secretary over unauthorised contacts with Israeli officials.

Mr Cummings clashed with officials and politicians while he was an adviser to Michael Gove in the coalition government, but Mr Johnson clearly believes his forthright style will help steer Brexit through.