The U.K.’s departure from the European Union (EU) moved a decisive step closer in the early hours of Friday morning when the Conservative Party headed by Boris Johnson won a decisive general election victory.
In the buildup to the election, Johnson had consistently promised to “Get Brexit Done.” And, after winning a huge parliamentary majority of at least 78 seats — 364 out of 650 seats, with one still to declare at this writing — he doubled down on his pledge, vowing to push his EU withdrawal agreement through Parliament in time for Brexit on Jan. 31.
“We politicians have squandered the last three-and-a-half years in squabbles about Brexit. We have even been arguing about arguing, about the tone of our arguments,” he said. “I will put an end to all that nonsense, and we will get Brexit done on time by the 31 January.
“No ifs, no buts, no maybes — leaving the European Union as one United Kingdom, taking back control of our laws, borders, money, our trade, immigration system, delivering on the democratic mandate of the people.”
Once Parliament has ratified Johnson’s withdrawal agreement, the European Parliament will give its consent in January before the UK’s departure from the EU at the end of next month. The two sides will then try to strike a free trade deal by the end of 2020, although as FreightWaves has previously reported, that will be no easy task. A no-deal Brexit, which would be hugely disruptive to supply chains, remains a strong possibility.
“We expect as soon as possible a vote by the British Parliament on the withdrawal agreement,” said Charles Michel, the European Council president. “It is important to have the clarity as soon as possible. We are ready. The EU will negotiate to ensure to have a close cooperation in the future with the U.K.”
The FTSE and sterling surged on Johnson’s victory, while opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Party won just 203 seats, hinted he would step down once a new leader was elected.
President Donald Trump urged Johnson to “celebrate” and then prepare to sign a major new trans-Atlantic trade deal with the U.S.
He tweeted: “Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN! Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT.”