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READ IN FULL: Boris Johnson's first speech as Prime Minister

PoliticsHome staff

9 min read

Boris Johnson repeated his commitment to lead the UK out of the European Union by 31 October n his first speech as Prime Minister.

Good afternoon,

I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen, who has invited me to form a government and I have accepted. I pay tribute to the fortitude and patience of my predecessor and her deep sense of public service.

But in spite of all her public efforts it has become clear that there are pessimists at home and abroad who think after three years of indecision that this country has become a prisoner to the old arguments of 2016.

And in this home of democracy we are incapable of honouring a democratic mandate. And so, 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.

The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts because we are going to restore trust in our democracy, and we are going to fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people and come out of the EU on October 31st. 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 conference that in 99 days’ time we will have cracked it.

"20,000 new police"

But do you know what? We are not 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.

And though the Queen has just honoured me with this extraordinary office of state, my job is to serve you, the people.

Because if there is one point us politicians need to remember, it is that the people are our bosses.

My job is to make your streets safer, and we are going to begin with another 20,000 police on the streets and we will start recruiting forthwith.

My job is that you don’t have to wait three weeks to see your GP, and we start this week with 20 new hospital upgrades and ensuring that the money for the NHS really does get to the frontline.

My job is to protect you or your parents, or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care. And so I am announcing now, on the steps of Downing Street, that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared, to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.

My job is to make sure your kids get a superb education wherever they are in the country and that is why we have already announced we are going to level up per pupil funding in primary and secondary schools, and that is the work that begins immediately behind that black door.

And while today I am building a great team of men and women, I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see.

Never mind the backstop, the buck stops here.

"Awesome foursome"

And I will tell you something else about my job, it is to be Prime Minister of the whole United Kingdom.

And that means uniting our country, answering at last the plea of the forgotten people and left behind tows, by physically and literally renewing the ties that bind us together, so that with safer streets and better education, and fantastic new road and rail infrastructure and full fibre broadband, we level up across Britain with higher wages, higher living wage, higher productivity, we close the opportunity gap giving millions of young people the chance to own their own home and giving business the confidence to invest across the UK.

Because it is time we unleashed the productive power. Not just of London and the South-East, but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The awesome foursome that are incarnated in that red, white and blue flag.

Who together are so much more than the sum of their parts, and whose brand and political personality is admired and even loved around the world, for our inventiveness, for our humour, for our universities, our scientists, our armed forces, our diplomacy.

For the equalities on which we insist, whether race or gender or LGBT or the right of every girl in the world to 12 years of quality education, and for the values we stand for around the world.

Everyone knows the values that flag represents. It stands for freedom and free speech and habeus corpus and the rule of law. Above all it stands for democracy.

That is why we will come out the EU on 31 October, because in the end Brexit was a fundamental decision by the British people, that they wanted their laws made by people they can elect, and they can remove from office. And we must now respect that decision.

And create a new partnership with our European friends, as warm, as close and as affectionate as possible.

"Anti-democratic backstop"

And the first step is to repeat unequivocally, our guarantee to the three million EU nationals living and working among us. And I say directly to you, thank you. Thank you for your contribution to our society, thank you for your patience. And I can assure you that under this government you will have the absolute certainty of the right to live and remain.

And I say next, to our friends in Ireland and in Brussels and around the EU, I am convinced we can do a deal without checks at the Irish border, because we refuse under any circumstances to have such check and yet without that anti-democratic backstop.

And of course, it is vital 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.

And let me stress that there is a vital sense in which those preparations cannot be wasted and that is because under any circumstances we will need to get ready. At some point in the near future, to come out of the EU customs union and regulatory control. Fully determined at last to take advantage of Brexit, because that is the course on which this course is now set, with high hears and growing confidence we will now accelerate the work of getting ready.

And the ports will ready and the banks will be ready, and the factories will be ready, and business will be ready, and the hospitals will be ready, and our amazing food and farming sectors will be ready and waiting to continue selling evermore, not just here but around the world.

And don’t forget, that in the event of a no-deal outcome, we will have that extra lubrication of the £39bn. And whatever deal we do, we will prepare this Autumn for an economic package to boost British business and to lengthen this country’s lead as the number one destination in this continent for overseas investment.

"Do not underestimate our powers"

And to all those who continue to prophesise disaster, I say yes there will be difficulties though I believe that with energy and application they will be far less serious than some have claimed, but if there is one thing that has really sapped the confidence of business over the last 3 years, it is not the decisions we have taken, it is our refusal to take decisions.

And to those who say we cannot be ready, I say do not underestimate this country.

Do not underestimate our powers of organisation and our determination, because we know the enormous strengths of this economy in life science, in tech, in academia, in music, the arts, culture, the financial services.

It is here in Britain where we are using gene therapy for the first time to treat the most common form of blindness. Here in Britain we are leaving the world in battery technology which will help cut Co2 and tackle climate change and produce green jobs for the next generation.

And as we prepare for a post-Brexit future, it is time we look not at the risks, but at the opportunities that are upon us.

So, let us begin work now to create free ports that will drive growth and thousands of high skill jobs in left behind areas.

"Generous in temper and engaged with the world"

Let’s start now to liberate the UK’s extraordinary bio-science sector form anti-genetic modification rules. And let’s develop the blight resistant crops that will feed the world. Let’s get going now on our own position, navigation and timing satellite and earth observation systems. UK assets, orbiting in space with all the long-term strategic and commercial benefits for this country.

Let’s change the tax rules to provide extra incentives to invest in capital and research. And let’s promote the welfare of animals that has always been to the hearts of the British people. And yes, let’s start now on those free trade deals, because it is free trade that has done more than anything else to lift billions out of poverty.

All this and more we can do now, and only now. At this extraordinary moment in our history. And after three years of unfounded self-doubt it is time to change the record. To recover our natural and historic role as an enterprising, outward looking and truly global Britain. Generous in temper and engaged with the world.

No one in the last few centuries has succeeded in betting against the pluck and nerve and ambition of this country. They will not succeed today. We, in this government, will work flat out to give this country the leadership it deserves, and that work begins now.

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