Boris Johnson and the Conservatives have won their first sizable majority in decades, taking dozens of seats from Labour, including many that had been held by the party since they were created.
A decisive majority empowers Johnson to press ahead with pushing through the Brexit deal he agreed with the EU back in October. He has vowed that the U.K. will leave the bloc on January 31 and negotiate a trade agreement before the end of a transitional period on 31 December 2020.
“We broke the deadlock, we ended the gridlock, we smashed the roadblock,” the prime minister said at a victory rally in Westminster as the final few seats were being counted. “A new dawn rises on a new day and a new government.”
But Johnson took something of a humble tone in his victory speech, reaching out a hand of gratitude to former Labour voters who backed the Conservatives for the first time.
“You may only have lent us your vote, you may not think of yourself as a natural Tory,” he said. “And you may intend to return to labour next time round. And if that is the case, I’m humbled that you put your trust in me, that you put your trust in us, and I, and we, will never take your support for granted.”
“I will make it my mission to work night and day flat out to prove you right in voting for me this time and earn your support in the future.”
But despite the “One Nation” rhetoric, Johnson ended his victory address in characteristic style: “Let’s get Brexit done, but first, my friends, let’s get breakfast done.”
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would not lead the Labour party into another election, but declined to stand down immediately. “This is obviously a very disappointing night,” he conceded.