Johnson addresses nation as UK leaves EU

Leaving EU ‘not an end, but a beginning,’ Johnson tells nation

Asif Hussain   | 01.02.2020
Johnson addresses nation as UK leaves EU


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation as it prepared to leave the European Union after almost 50 years of membership.

Johnson struck a tone of conciliation, wanting to bring the nation together and looking forward to what he called “not an end, but a beginning.”

Citing the obvious divisions between “leavers” and “remainers,” he said he “understood all the feelings” of those across the country.

He emphasized opportunities Brexit could bring the U.K. as a “dawn of a new era” that could “spread hope and opportunity to every part of the UK.”

This refers to the government’s plans on “levelling up” infrastructure in mainly northern towns and cities that many have claimed to have been left behind in the economic growth enjoyed by the southeast and London in recent times.

When considering Britain’s future relationship with the EU and the world at large, Johnson said, “We want this to be the beginning of a new era of friendly cooperation between the EU and an energetic Britain. A Britain that is simultaneously a great European power and truly global in our range and ambitions.”

With the U.K. having now left the EU, this sentiment was not shared, however, by European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leven, who reminded Johnson’s government, “We want to have the best possible relationship with the United Kingdom, but it will never be as good as membership. Our experience has taught us that strength does not lie in splendid isolation, but in our unique union.”

Britain now enters a period of transition where it will have 11 months to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union, a deadline that Johnson said will be met come what may, and with no extensions.

Experts have questioned how a meaningful trade deal could be struck by the end of 2020, when ordinarily such deals take years to finalise. This leaves open the uncertainty of a “no deal Brexit” once again.

Interestingly, Johnson did not once use the phrase ‘Brexit’ during his address. A word he oft-repeated during the recent general election campaign, it has been reported that advisers to the prime minister have warned against using the phrase going forward due to its divisiveness.

With this momentous day being met with jubilation outside Parliament by hundreds of Brexiteers and dismay by many in Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly for remain, it is yet to be seen whether Johnson really can bring the British people together again after such a fractious and divided three years.

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