Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to make the U.K. “a science superpower” after Brexit as the clock ticks down to the moment the country finally parts from the European Union’s single market and customs rules.
The Brexit transition period will end at 11 p.m. in London, marking the final separation of the U.K. from the EU, four years after the country voted to quit the bloc.
In his New Year message, the premier said he wants to use the new opportunities Brexit provides to pioneer developments in biosciences, artificial intelligence and battery and wind power technology, and create millions of high-skilled jobs.
“This is an amazing moment for this country,” Johnson said in a statement released by his office. “We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it.”
Over the months ahead, Johnson’s government has a more pressing emergency — racing to roll out vaccines fast enough to control the coronavirus. With a record 55,892 new daily cases recorded on Thursday, and another 964 deaths, the pandemic is entering what ministers say is a highly dangerous phase.
“We know that we have a hard struggle still ahead of us for weeks and months, because we face a new variant of the disease that requires a new vigilance,” Johnson said. “But as the sun rises tomorrow on 2021 we have the certainty of those vaccines, pioneered in a U.K. that is also free to do things differently, and if necessary better, than our friends in the EU.”
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