U.K. Government Plans Brexit Bill, Multi-Year NHS Funding

(Bloomberg) — Boris Johnson’s Conservative government will return the Withdrawal Agreement bill for debate in Parliament before Christmas, seeking to get it passed in time for the Jan. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union.

After securing a hefty majority in Thursday’s general election, the prime minister is setting out on the first stage of his campaign promise to “get Brexit done.” He’s also vowed not to extend the transition period beyond 2020, leaving Britain and the EU just 11 months to hammer out an accord.

The Queen’s Speech, scheduled for Thursday, will lay out the government’s domestic agenda and much of it will be a reprise of what was outlined by Johnson’s minority administration in October. A key addition, according to a statement late Saturday from Downing Street, will be a plan to enact a “multi-year financial commitment” to the National Health Service.

“This election was as much about delivering on the people’s priorities as it was about getting Brexit done — and the Prime Minister understands that,” a No. 10 official said. “We will deliver on the promises we have made on helping with the cost of living, tackling crime and supporting our NHS.”

Regarding Northern Ireland, where the nationalist Sinn Fein made significant advances in the election at the expense of the Democratic Unionist Party, Johnson wants parties to resume talks before Christmas on governance in the province. Stormont, Northern Ireland’s power-sharing assembly, has been suspended following a bitter row between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

A strong U.K. is a “vital focus of this government,” according to the statement.

Johnson is also planning a major reshuffle in February, after Brexit, in an attempt to move on to the next part of his agenda, according to the Times of London. As many as one third of ministers in his cabinet could be fired from the top team in the prime minister’s bid to tackle issues facing working-class voters, the newspaper reported, citing a government source it didn’t identify.

(Updates with reported Cabinet plans in last paragraph)

–With assistance from Siraj Datoo.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Ludden in New York at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at [email protected], Tony Czuczka

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