UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson proclaimed a political “earthquake” Friday after his thumping election victory cleared Britain’s way to finally leave the European Union after years of damaging deadlock over Brexit.
With all but one result declared for the 650-seat parliament in Thursday’s momentous election, Johnson’s Conservative party had secured 364 seats — its biggest majority since the heyday of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
The main opposition Labour party suffered its worst performance since the 1930s, forcing its socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn to announce plans to step down, but Scottish Nationalists performed well, raising the prospect of another push for independence.
The pound shot up to its highest level since mid-2018 on hopes for a swift end to uncertainty over how, when — or even if — Britain was going to draw its often rocky five-decade involvement in the European project to a close.
Condemning more than three years of bitterly divisive political wrangling, Johnson vowed in his victory speech to “put an end to all that nonsense” and “get Brexit done on time by January 31, no ifs, no buts”.
“We did it — we pulled it off,” the pro-Brexit figurehead of the original 2016 EU membership referendum told cheering supporters. “We broke the gridlock, we ended the gridlock, we smashed the roadblock.”
Johnson arrived in Buckingham Palace on Friday to receive formal instructions from Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government.