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Boris Johnson to meet new intake in readiness for Brexit vote

Boris Johnson will have the keys to Number 10 Downing Street for the foreseeable future
Boris Johnson will have the keys to Number 10 Downing Street for the foreseeable future

By Sam Blewett

Boris Johnson is to address his new intake of Tory MPs today as they prepare to vote on his Brexit deal.

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The Prime Minister will welcome the 109 newly elected colleagues, many of them from former Labour areas across the north and Midlands, to the House of Commons.

Mr Johnson will use his majority of 80 to get his Withdrawal Agreement Bill (Wab) to implement Brexit approved so the UK can formally leave the EU by the end of January.

The PM has pledged to bring the Bill back before the Commons before Christmas but it is not yet known when MPs will begin voting on it.

Ahead of the private speech, a Number 10 source said: "This election and the new generation of MPs that have resulted from Labour towns turning blue will help change our politics for the better.

"The PM has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public's trust by getting Brexit done.

"That's why the first piece of legislation new MPs will vote on will be the Withdrawal Agreement Bill."

It is expected to be an eventful week in Westminster, with a Government reshuffle on the cards and the swearing-in of MPs to begin tomorrow.

The Queen will formally open Parliament this Thursday when she sets out the Government's legislative programme during a slimmed-down State Opening.

Approving the Wab will not mean the Brexit saga is over.

The UK will remain in the EU until at least the end of 2020 during the implementation period.

This time will be used by Brussels and London to hammer out a trade deal and decide on their future relationship on subjects such as security.

But EU figures have been highly sceptical this can be sorted within the year, with chief negotiator Michel Barnier saying the timetable was "unrealistic" in leaked comments.

Senior Cabinet member Michael Gove, who is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, tried to dismiss these fears.

He told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday he is "confident" the agreement could be finalised by the deadline because "quite a lot of the details" are agreed in the Political Declaration agreed with the EU.

Mr Johnson is not the only leader who will be welcoming a new intake of MPs today, with the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford expected to meet his new colleagues. This will demonstrate one of the greatest problems the PM is expected to face - Nicola Sturgeon's party will be making intensifying demands for a fresh Scottish independence referendum.

Mr Johnson plans to enshrine in law a commitment to raise spending on the NHS year-on-year when the first Queen's Speech of the new Parliament is unveiled on Thursday.

Number 10 sources said the Prime Minister will use his legislative programme to underline commitments made during his victorious General Election campaign to support the National Health Service.

It will include a bill to require the Government to honour its pledge to raise spending on the NHS to £33.9bn by 2023-24.

The Conservatives said it would be the first time any government has made a legally-binding spending commitment over several years.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister's chief adviser Dominic Cummings was reported to be preparing a radical overhaul of the Civil Service to ensure it delivers on Mr Johnson's agenda.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cummings is planning to review the way officials are hired and fired, while The Sunday Times reported departments could be abolished and civil servants replaced by outside experts.

Labour should also have a busy week as the party seeks to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader after suffering its worst General Election result since 1935.

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