Brexit and optimism: Breakdown of new British PM's speech

It sought to change the mood around Brexit, chart the path to a 31 October departure from the EU and address the divisions in Britain that led to the 2016 Brexit vote.

FILE: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a speech outside 10 Downing Street in London on 24 July 2019 on the day he was formally appointed British prime minister. Picture: AFP

LONDON - New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's maiden speech Wednesday outside the premier's 10 Downing Street office was a statement of intent about his premiership.

It sought to change the mood around Brexit, chart the path to a 31 October departure from the EU and address the divisions in Britain that led to the 2016 Brexit vote.

Here is a breakdown of Johnson's speech:


  • Brexit date

"We are going to fulfil the repeated promises of parliament to the people and come out of the EU on October 31 -- no ifs or buts."

  • Striking a deal with Brussels

"We will do a new deal, a better deal that will maximise the opportunities of Brexit while allowing us to develop a new and exciting partnership with the rest of Europe based on free trade and mutual support."

  • No deal prospects

He said he did not want to leave the EU without a deal and Britain would only do so if Brussels "refuses any further to negotiate and we are forced to come out with no deal".

  • Irish border

The land border with the Irish Republic has proved the sticking point in reaching a divorce deal with Brussels.

Johnson said a deal could be struck without requiring border controls, saying: "We refuse under any circumstances to have such checks."

  • EU citizens

Johnson said he "unequivocally" guaranteed the rights of 3.2 million EU nationals living in Britain to stay after Brexit.


  • Brexit destination

He said Britain would be "fully determined at last to take advantage of Brexit because that is the course on which this country is now set.

"It is time we looked not at the risks but at the opportunities."

  • Britain's role

Johnson said the UK must "recover our natural and historic role as an enterprising, outward-looking and truly global Britain, generous in temper and engaged with the world".

  • International trade post-Brexit

"Let's start now on those free trade deals."

  • How Britain is seen

He said Britain was "admired and even loved around the world" for its inventiveness, humour, diplomacy and values, while its flag symbolised freedom, free speech, the rule of law and democracy.


  • Leadership

"I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see.

"The buck stops here."

  • Decision-making

"The time has come to act, to take decisions, to give strong leadership and to change this country for the better."


  • Infrastructure

He pledged new road, rail and full-fibre broadband internet infrastructure to better connect remote areas.

  • Hearing Britain beyond London

"Answering, at last, the plea of the forgotten people and the left-behind towns."

  • Crime and safety

Johnson pledged to start recruiting 20,000 new police officers.

  • Health

He said people would not have to wait up three weeks to get an appointment with their family doctor.

Work to begin this week on 20 new hospital upgrades.

Johnson pledged to "fix the crisis in social care once and for all", protecting people from the "fear" of having to sell their family home to pay for care.


  • Confidence

He said business confidence had been sapped not by decisions taken since 2016 but by "our refusal to take decisions".

  • Tax and investment

Change the tax rules to incentivise investment in capital and research.

  • Ports, science, space industries

Create free ports, "liberate" the bioscience sector from "anti-genetic modification rules", and kick off Britain's own "position navigation and timing satellite and Earth observation systems".

  • Pay and productivity

Johnson pledged "higher wages, and a higher living wage, and higher productivity".