Boris Johnson promised on Thursday that Brexit would make Britain the greatest place on earth, echoing the patriotic rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump in a debut speech as prime minister before parliament.
Johnson has promised to strike a new Brexit divorce deal with the EU and to energise the world’s fifth largest economy after what he casts as the gloom of Theresa May’s premiership.
On entering Downing Street on Wednesday, Johnson set the UK up for a showdown with the EU by vowing to negotiate a new divorce deal and threatening that if the bloc refused then he would leave without a deal on Oct. 31.
“Our mission is to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 for the purpose of uniting and re-energising our great United Kingdom and making this country the greatest place on earth,” Johnson said.
He said that he was not being hyperbolic as the United Kingdom could be most prosperous economy in Europe by 2050, a feat that would mean drawing far ahead of France and then overtaking Germany.
Johnson promised British “children and grandchildren will be living longer, happier, healthier, wealthier lives.”
His victory has placed an avowed Brexiteer in charge of the British government for the first time since the 2016 EU referendum which shocked the world and roiled financial markets.
Trump has repeatedly praised Brexit and has advised the United Kingdom to “walk away” if the EU offers a poor deal.
While he grew frustrated with former prime minister Theresa May, Trump said this week he liked Johnson.
Johnson spiced his pitch to the EU on Thursday by bluntly stating that one of the most hotly contested elements of the Brexit divorce agreement would have to be struck out if there was to be an orderly exit.
His bet is that the threat of a no-deal Brexit will persuade the EU’s biggest powers – Germany and France – to agree to revise the divorce deal that May agreed Nov. 2018 but failed to get ratified.
Johnson told parliament the Irish backstop, an insurance policy designed to prevent the return of a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, must be abolished.
“It must be clearly understood that the way to the deal goes by way of the abolition of the backstop,” Johnson said.
The EU’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier quickly rejected Johnson’s demand as unacceptable.
“As suggested by his rather combative speech, we have to be ready for a situation where he gives priority to the planning for ‘no deal’, partly to heap pressure on the unity of the EU27,” Barnier said in a note sent to EU member states.