The prime minister came under fire for insisting he was poised to begin cooking his “oven ready” deal for leaving the EU – a day after Brussels predicted he would be forced into yet another U-turn.
Mr Johnson also reheated previously demolished claims that the NHS is about to enjoy “a record funding settlement”, with 40 new hospitals and 50,000 more nurses.
The message was issued as the prime minister enjoyed a luxury break on the Caribbean paradise of Mustique, staying in a reputed £40,000-a-week villa with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
“Boris Johnson’s new year’s resolution should have been to stop telling porkie pies, but his new year’s message sadly just repeats the many lies he peddled in the election,” said Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats’ interim leader.
“Worst of all, he repeats his proven lies on nurses and hospitals, just as his policy of a nurses’ tax will make the staffing crisis in the NHS even more serious.
“If the prime minister really wants to unite the country, he has to learn how to tell the truth – and then, for example, lead a grown up public debate about how we tackle the crisis in social care and our NHS.”
On Monday, Phil Hogan, the EU trade commissioner, predicted Mr Johnson will be forced to abandon his “stunt” of refusing to extend the post-Brexit transition period beyond 2020, because no trade deal will be ready.
But, in his message, the prime minister claimed: “That oven-ready deal I talked about so much during the election campaign has already had its plastic covering pierced and been placed in the microwave.
“We got down to work immediately after the election. The necessary legislation has already begun its passage through parliament and, once MPs return to Westminster, we’ll waste no time in finishing the job.”
Ministers have been forced to acknowledge that there is currently cash for six new hospitals only and that their target is to recruit 31,000 nurses – with a further 19,000 to be retained.
Similarly, the £20.5bn pledged to the NHS by 2024, in real terms, is smaller than the increase it received under Labour in the run-up to 2010.
Yet Mr Johnson said: “One our first actions will be to pass a bill enshrining in law a record funding settlement for the NHS, providing an extra £34bn a year.
“We will undertake the largest hospital building programme in living memory, delivering 40 new hospitals and 20 upgrades.
“We’ll ensure there are 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more GPs, and 50 million more GP surgery appointments.”
The prime minister also said: “As we say goodbye to 2019, we can also turn the page on the division, rancour and uncertainty which has dominated public life and held us back for far too long.
“We can start a new chapter in the history of our country, in which we come together and move forward united, unleashing the enormous potential of the British people.”