LONDON (AP) — UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged Friday to heal Britain’s divisions over Brexit after his gamble on early elections rewarded him with a commanding majority in Parliament and a new mandate to take his country out of the European Union at the end of January.
Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done″ and widespread unease with the leadership style and socialist policies of opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn combined to give the ruling Conservative Party 365 seats in the House of Commons, its best performance since party icon Margaret Thatcher’s last victory in 1987. Corbyn’s Labour Party slumped to 203 seats, 59 fewer than it won two years ago, vote totals showed Friday.
The results offer Johnson fresh momentum to push his EU withdrawal agreement through Parliament. Since taking office in July, he had led a minority government. After the House of Commons stalled his Brexit deal at the end of October, he called the election two years ahead of schedule in hopes of winning a clear majority.
“I will put an end to all that nonsense, and we will get Brexit done on time by the January 31 - no ifs, no buts, no maybes,″ he said as supporters cheered.
Johnson also offered an olive branch to Britons who want to remain in the EU, saying he will respect their “warm feelings” and build a “new partnership” with the bloc as “friends and sovereign equals.”
The scale of Johnson’s success marked a stinging defeat for Corbyn, who had promised to lead Labour to victory with the “biggest people-powered campaign our country has ever seen.”