UK's Johnson hails Brexit as 'new beginning' as conflicted nation prepares celebration

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday hailed a "new beginning" for Britain as it prepares to leave the European Union after 47 years.

UK Prime minister Boris Johnson in London, on January 8, 2020.
UK Prime minister Boris Johnson in London, on January 8, 2020. © Henry Nicholls, REUTERS

The Conservative leader called for an end to years of bitter arguments over Brexit that have divided the country, saying it was time to move on.

"Our job as the government -- my job -- is to bring this country together and take us forward," he said in remarks released by his office.

"This is not an end but a beginning. This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act.

"It is a moment of real national renewal and change."

Britain will leave the EU at 11:00 pm (2300 GMT) on Friday, January 31, more than three years after the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit.

To mark the occasion, Johnson will on Friday hold a special cabinet meeting in Sunderland, a city in northeast England that voted heavily for Brexit.

During last month's general election, in which his Conservatives won a huge majority, the prime minister vowed to address concerns in many 'Leave' areas that globalisation had left them behind.

He has promised investment in public services and infrastructure to "level up" the whole country.

"This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances, your family's life chances, should depend on which part of the country you grow up in," he said.

"This is the moment when we begin to unite and level up."

Johnson will expand upon his remarks in a speech to the nation on Friday night to mark the Brexit moment.

He is also hosting a reception for staff at his Downing Street office, where there will be a light show, and a new commemorative coin has been issued.


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