LONDON — Boris Johnson hailed the “dawn of a new era” as the U.K. leaves the European Union.
In a video address to the nation broadcast an hour before the U.K.’s exit, the prime minister welcomed “a moment of real national renewal and change.”
“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning,” he said in a pre-recorded video filmed in Downing Street. “We will rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades — the power of independent thought and action.”
Johnson acknowledged that Brexit was for some people a cause for celebration and for others a source of anxiety and loss.
“I understand all those feelings, and our job as the government — my job — is to bring this country together now and take us forward,” he said.
Johnson said that “for all its strengths,” the EU had “evolved over 50 years in a direction that no longer suits this country.
“That is a judgement that you, the people, have now confirmed at the polls — not once but twice,” he said, referring to the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2019 general election which gave him a parliamentary majority.
“We want this to be the beginning of a new era of friendly cooperation between the EU and an energetic Britain,” he said.
Johnson pledged to use the U.K.’s “recaptured sovereignty” to control immigration, create freeports, liberate the fishing industry and negotiate trade agreements.
He also stressed the key facets of his domestic agenda, including infrastructure spending, fighting crime, boosting technology and investing more in the U.K.’s poorer regions.
“This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances — your family’s life chances — should depend on which part of the country you grow up in,” he said.