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Johnson calls for nation to come together as Commons debates Brexit

The Prime Minister said it is time to discard the old labels of Leave and Remain.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said seem the labels Remain and Leave ‘seem tired to me’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said seem the labels Remain and Leave ‘seem tired to me’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted Leave and Remain labels are now defunct as he moved to push Brexit legislation through Parliament.

After months of delay and deadlock, the PM said now is the time to act and forge a new relationship with the rest of Europe.

Mr Johnson, moving the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill at second reading, urged Parliament to come together and allow the “warmth and natural affection that we all share” for the UK’s European neighbours to “find renewed expression in one great new national project”.

The PM told MPs the Bill must not be seen as a victory for one party or faction before adding: “This is the time when we move on and discard the old labels of Leave and Remain.

“In fact, the very words seem tired to me – as defunct as Big-enders and Little-enders, or Montagues and Capulets at the end of the play.

“Now is the time to act together as one reinvigorated nation, one United Kingdom, filled with renewed confidence in our national destiny and determined at last to take advantage of the opportunities that now lie before us.”

Mr Johnson said: “We will be able to move forward together. The Bill ensures that the implementation period must end on January 31 with no possibility of an extension.

“And it paves the path for a new agreement on our future relationship with our European neighbours based on an ambitious free-trade agreement, with no alignment… on EU rules, but instead control of our own laws and close and friendly relations.

The oven is on, so to speak, it is set at gas mark 4, we can have it done by lunchtime, or late lunch Boris Johnson

“This vision of the United Kingdom’s independence, a vision that inspires so many, is now if this Parliament, this new Parliament allows, only hours from our grasp.

“The oven is on, so to speak, it is set at gas mark 4, we can have it done by lunchtime, or late lunch.”

Mr Johnson added: “Now is the moment to come together and write a new and exciting chapter in our national story, to forge a new partnership with our European friends, to stand tall in the world, to begin the healing for which the whole people of this country yearn.”

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(PA Graphics)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn labelled the Government’s handling of Brexit as a “national embarrassment” since 2016, as he said his party “recognises the clear message” from voters at the election but confirmed Labour will not support the Bill.

He said Mr Johnson was offering a “terrible” Brexit deal, adding: “Labour will not support this Bill as we remain certain there is a better and fairer way for this country to leave the European Union.

“One which would not risk ripping our communities apart, selling out our public services or sacrificing hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.

“This deal is a road map for the reckless direction in which the Government and our Prime Minister are determined to take our country.”

PA

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