‘Let the healing begin’: Boris Johnson strikes conciliatory tone after landslide general election victory

‘This country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from politics, and a permanent break from talking about Brexit’

Vincent Wood
Saturday 14 December 2019 01:38
Comments
Boris Johnson gives speech outside 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson deployed a conciliatory tone to reach out across the political divide in his first address after cementing his landslide electoral victory.

The prime minister attempted to bring former Labour voters and Remain supporters into the fold while lauding the NHS as a symbol of “the best of our country”.

His maiden speech as prime minister in the same spot outside No 10 in July had been overshadowed by bellows of “stop Brexit” from the neighbouring street – however the sound was replaced by cheers of supporters as he spoke from Downing Street for the first time with a mandate from the public.

And with a majority of 80 MPs cushioning him from the more combative wings of his own party, Mr Johnson attempted to strike a conciliatory tone, asking for the nation to heal its divides over Brexit three months after he dismissed calls to temper his own language as “humbug” after his words had been referenced in death threats to MPs.

Promising his “One Nation” government would embrace the feelings of “warmth and sympathy” felt by remain voters towards the other nations of Europe while still “getting Brexit done”, he said: “Now is the moment, precisely as we leave the EU, to let those natural feelings find renewed expression in building a new partnership.

“I frankly urge everyone on either side of what are, after three and a half years, increasingly arid argument, I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin.”

In part his speech, which followed his meeting with the queen to form a government, was a call back to the first he made at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip count where he retained his seat just hours before.

He reached out to former Labour supporters, “those whose pencils may have wavered over the ballot”, to thank them for their trust - all while touting a view of a moderate government more in line with David Cameron’s liberal conservatism than the fringe right-wing politics associated with arch-Brexit supporters who he had previously courted like the ERG.

He also went some way in attempting to appease concerns over his devices for the NHS – following the oft repeated Labour attack that Mr Johnson would attempt to sell off the health service to the US as part of a post-Brexit trade deal.

“I believe, in fact I know, because I have heard it loud and clear from every corner of the country that the overwhelming priority of the British people now is that we should focus, above all, on the NHS – that simple and beautiful idea that represents the best of our country – with the biggest ever cash boost, 50,000 more nurses, 40 new hospitals.” He said – referencing three policies which were each considered to have been factually misleading at different points during the election campaign.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

He added: “I know that after five weeks frankly of electioneering this country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from politics, and a permanent break from talking about Brexit.

“I want everyone to go about their Christmas preparations happy and secure in the knowledge that here in this ‘people’s government’ the work is now being stepped up to make 2020 a year of prosperity and growth and hope and to deliver a parliament that works for the people.”

His victory speech stood as the culmination of efforts across a political lifetime from the old Etonian – and as the strongest electoral victory for his party since the era of Thatcher.

It also marked a historic low for Jeremy Corbyn‘s Labour party – which has never held so few seats in the years following the Second World War – prompting the leader to promise he would step down in the new year.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in