Boris Johnson’s first speech as prime minister — decoded

The FT’s Whitehall editor takes us through the new prime minister’s first speech and the meaning that lies behind some of his statements

Select the highlights to read the annotations.

Good afternoon.

I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen who has invited me to form a government, and I have accepted. I pay tribute to the fortitude and patience  and her deep sense of public service, but in spite of all her efforts, it has become clear that there are pessimists at home and abroad who think after three years of indecision that this country has become a prisoner to the old arguments of 2016. And in this home of democracy, we are incapable of honouring a democratic mandate. And so I'm standing before you today to tell you, the British people, that those critics are wrong. The people who because we're going to restore trust in our democracy and we are gonna fulfill the repeated promises of parliament to the people.

And And we will do a new deal, a better deal that will maximise the opportunities of Brexit while allowing us to develop a new and exciting partnership with the rest of Europe. Based on free trade and mutual support.

I have every confidence that in 99 days time we will have cracked it. But you know what? We aren't going to wait 99 days because the British people have had enough of waiting. The time has come to act, to take decisions, to give strong leadership and to change this country for the better. And though the Queen has just honoured me with this extraordinary office of state, my job is to serve you the people because if there's one point we politicians need to remember it is that the people are our bosses.

My job is to make your streets safer with another and we start recruiting forthwith. My job is to make sure you don't have to wait three weeks to see your GP. And we start work this week with 20 new hospital upgrades and ensuring that the money for the NHS really does get to the front line. My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care. And so, I am announcing now on the steps of Downing Street that to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve. My job is to make sure your kids get a superb education wherever they are in the country, and that's why we have already announced that and that is the work that begins immediately behind that black door.

And though I am today building a great team of men and women, I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see. Never mind the backstop, the buck stops here.

And I will tell you something else about my job. It is to be prime minister of the whole United Kingdom, and that means uniting our country. that with safer streets and better education and fantastic new road and rail infrastructure and  

We level up across Britain with higher wages, higher living wage, higher productivity. We close the opportunity gap, giving millions of young people the chance to own their own homes and giving business the confidence to invest across the UK because it is time we unleashed the productive power, not just of London and the south-east, but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The  that are incarnated in that red, white, and blue flag, who together are so much more than the sum of their parts and whose brands and political personality is admired and even loved around the world. For our inventiveness, for our humor, for our universities, our scientists, our armed forces, our diplomacy for the equalities on which we insist where the race or gender or LGBT or the right of every go in the world to 12 years of quality education, for the values we stand for around the world.

Everyone knows the values that flag represents. It stands for freedom and free speech and Habeas Corpus. In the rule of law and above all, it stands for democracy. And that is why we will come out of the EU on October 31st. Because in the end Brexit was a fundamental decision by the British people — that they wanted their laws made by people that they can elect and they can remove from office. And we must now respect that decision and create a new partnership with our European friends — as warm, as close and as affectionate as possible. And the first step is to repeat unequivocally our guarantee to the 3.2m EU nationals now living and working among us. Let's I say directly to you: Thank you. Thank you for your contribution to our society. Thank you for your patience. And I can assure you that under this government    

And I say next to our friends in Ireland and in Brussels and around the EU, I am convinced we can do a deal without checks at the Irish border because

And it is of course vital at the same time that we prepare for that Brussels refuses any further to negotiate and we are forced to come out with no deal. Not because we want that outcome, of course not, but because it is only common sense to prepare. And let me stress that there is a vital sense in which those preparations cannot be wasted. And that is because under any circumstances, we will need to get ready, at some point in the near future, to come out of the EU customs union and out of regulatory control.

Fully determined, at last to take advantage of Brexit because that is the course on which this country is now set. With high hearts and growing confidence

And don't forget that in the event of a no deal outcome, we will have that and whatever deal we do, we will prepare this autumn  

And to all those who continue to prophesied disaster, I say yes, there will be difficulties though I believe that with energy and application, they will be far less serious than some have claimed. But if there is one thing that is really sapped the confidence of business over the last three years, it is not the decisions we have taken — it is our refusal to take decisions. And to those who say we cannot be ready, I say, do not underestimate this country. Do not underestimate our powers of organisation and our determination because we know the enormous strengths of this economy. In life sciences, in tech, in academia, in music, the arts, culture, financial services. It is here in Britain that we are using gene therapy for the first time to treat the most common form of blindness. Here in Britain that we are leading the world in battery technology that will help cut CO2 and tackle climate change and produce green jobs for the next generation.

And as we prepare for a post Brexit future, it is time we look not at the risks, but at the opportunities that are upon us. So let us begin work now to create

To liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti genetic modification rules and let us develop the blight resistant crops that will feed the world. UK assets orbiting in space with all the long-term strategic and commercial benefits for this country. Let's change the tax rules to provide extra incentives to invest in capital and research. And let's promote the welfare of animals that has always been so close to the hearts of the British people. And yes, let's start now on those free trade deals because it is free trade that have  done more than anything else to lift billions out of poverty. All this and more we can do now and only now at this extraordinary moment in our history, and after three years of unfounded self-doubt, it is time to change the record, to recover our natural and historic role as an enterprising, outward looking and truly global Britain, generous in temper and engaged with the world. No one in the last few centuries has succeeded in betting against the pluck and nerve and the ambition of this country. They will not succeed today.

We in this government will work flat-out to give this country the leadership it deserves, and that work begins now.

Thank you very much.

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