U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrated the biggest victory of his political life Friday with a vow to take Britain out of the European Union next month following what he called the “irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people”.
Johnson's Conservative Party won its largest Parliamentary majority in more than three decades last night, securing at least 364 seats in the House of Commons and handing the Labour opposition its most thumping defeat since the 1930s. The result gives Johnson, the face of the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union, more than enough support to push through his stalled Brexit bill and pull Britain from the bloc as early as January 31.
“It does look as if this one nation Conservative government has been given a new mandate to get Brexit done, and not just to get Brexit done but to unite the British people,” Johnson said during an acceptance speech in his suburban London constituency of Uxbridge last night.
“We must understand now what an earthquake we have created ... the way in which we have changed the political map in this country. We have to grapple with the consequences of that," he added. "We have to change our own party. We have to rise to the level of events. We have to rise to the challenge that the British people have given us.”
The pound, which touched a near-three year high of 1.3516 in overnight trading, faded to 1.3418 against the U.S. dollar during early London dealing, with some of the decline linked to an equally resounding win for the independence-supporting Scottish National Party in that country's devolved Parliament.
Johnson is now expected to bring his Brexit legislation to lawmakers in the days before Christmas, with the aim of winning full Parliamentary support in time for his self-imposed deadline of a January 31 exit from the Europe Union.
From there, Johnson has set an equally-ambitious target of January 2020 for the negotiation, agreement and ratification of a new and comprehensive trade deal with Brussels.
“This new found confidence could quickly fade, though, with the realisation that the Prime Minister has an enormous amount of work to do to ensure the UK does not inadvertently leave without a deal before the end of the transition period, which is currently slated for the end of 2020," said Stuart Clark, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors.
"It remains to be seen whether Mr Johnson is committed to that date and a ‘hard Brexit’, or whether the strength of this victory allows him to step back from the harder right and negotiate a closer working relationship with the EU," he added.