Boris Johnson threw down the gauntlet to Brussels in his first speech as Prime Minister as he vowed to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October “no ifs, no buts”.
Speaking outside Downing Street after meeting with the Queen in Buckingham Palace, Johnson stayed true to his campaign pledges to deliver Brexit by Halloween.
The new Conservative leader said he was convinced the UK and EU could strike a “better deal” than the one agreed with his predecessor, Theresa May.
He hit out at so-called pessimists who did not believe Brexit could be delivered, and vowed to take personal responsibility for a range of improvements he wanted to see to the UK.
“Never mind the backstop, the buck stops here,” he said.
With his new Downing Street team looking on, alongside his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, Johnson made it clear that should the UK leave the EU without an agreement, it would be the fault of Brussels.
He said: “I am convinced we can do a deal without checks at the Irish border because we refuse under any circumstances to have such checks and yet without that anti-democratic backstop.
“It is of course vital that at the same time we prepare for the remote possibility that Brussels refuses any further to negotiate and we are forced to come out with no deal, not because we want that outcome, of course not, but because it is only common sense to prepare.”
Johnson also vowed to withhold all the money agreed in the financial settlement in the event of no deal, saying the £39billion would be “extra lubrication”.
Aside from Brexit, Johnson made a raft of domestic policy announcements.
He pledged an extra 20,000 police on the nation’s streets, reducing waiting times for people wanting to see a GP, and 20 new hospital upgrades.
On social care, the issue which sparked the unravelling of Theresa May’s 2017 general election campaign, Johnson made a firm pledge.
“My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care and so I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared.”
Johnson repeatedly sought to inject a sense of optimism into his speech, as he hit out at “the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters”.
He added: “The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts because we are going to restore trust in our democracy and 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.”