UK’s Johnson claims Brexit mandate as Tories secure majority

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures after speaking at a campaign event at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party has won a solid majority of seats in Britain's Parliament — a decisive outcome to a Brexit-dominated election that should allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the U.K. out of the European Union next month. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(AP) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the largest Conservative majority since the 1980s shows that getting Brexit done has now proved to be the will of the British people.

In a jubilant speech to party supporters, Johnson stressed that Britain will leave the European Union by Jan. 31.

“We will get Brexit done on time by Jan 31,” he said. "No ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

The victory makes Johnson the most electorally successful Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher.

President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson on Twitter, and said that "Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new trade deal after Brexit.”

Johnson also said that his government has to represent all corners of the United Kingdom. The Conservatives won a number of seats that had voted for the main opposition Labour Party for decades.

Results pouring in early Friday showed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives easily winning at least 363 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, ensuring it will form a majority government.

EU leaders began gathering Friday morning to discuss Britain’s departure from the bloc. While many leaders are saddened to see the U.K. leave, most appear to be breathing a sigh of relief that they can now get on with European business.

Britain is due to leave the EU by Jan. 31 and talks can then commence over the future trading arrangements. After Brexit, Britain will remain in the EU's tariff-free single market until the end of 2020.

After congratulating Johnson on his victory, new EU Council President Charles Michel said that “we expect as soon as possible the vote by the British parliament on the withdrawal agreement.”

Regarding the future relationship, Michel said the EU is ready to negotiate "close cooperation in the future with the U.K.”

U.K. markets have reacted positively to the British election results that have handed Boris Johnson's Conservatives a majority in Parliament.

The prevailing view among investors is that the results have eased, if not quite erased, some of the uncertainty that has been hobbling the British economy ever since the country voted to leave the European Union in June 2016.

The pound and British stocks jumped higher . The currency spiked 2 cents against the dollar to $1.3450 late Thursday, when the first exit polls were made public, and held onto its gains. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 1.6% upon opening on Friday.

Longer term, it still remains unclear how Johnson will steer the economy, particularly since so much of Britain's future trade relations remain to be negotiated once it has left the EU.

Sarah Carlson, senior vice president at credit ratings agency Moody’s, says “Brexit-related uncertainty is unlikely to abate for more than a few months.”

Prominent European center-left politicians are lamenting the opposition Labour Party’s defeat in the British election, though one is suggesting that the party’s ambiguous stance on Brexit was to blame.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's Labour Party, says a new leader will be in place in the "early part of next year."

Asked when he would stand down following Labour’s crushing election defeat to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, Corbyn said the decision was up to his party’s national executive, but that a decision will be made soon.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, 70-year-old Corbyn said he would not lead the party into another election but resisted calls to step down immediately.

As the bitter recriminations began about Labour’s failed campaign, former Labour Party Home Secretary Alan Johnson called Corbyn “a disaster on the doorstep. Everyone knew that he couldn’t lead the working class out of a paper bag."

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in Brussels at a summit of EU leaders that “to me as a Social Democrat, it's sad. But that's how it is.”

Germany’s minister for Europe, Michael Roth, had a blunter verdict on Labour’s campaign. In a tweet addressed to “our British friends,” he wrote that social democrats “should never be neutral” when it comes to Europe.

He added: “Progressives are & remain Internationalists & passionate Europeans. If you don't get it, you will go down. Really sorry!”

With all but one of the U.K. constituency results in, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have won 364 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, ensuring it will form a majority government. That’s up 47 on the 2017 election. Meanwhile, Labour lost 59 seats and has 203, its worst showing since 1935.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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