#AceNewsReport – Oct.06: Promoting opportunity across the UK is “our mission as Conservatives”, Boris Johnson has told his party conference.
#AceDailyNews – Boris Johnson: It is our mission as Tories to promote opportunity as he says he wants a “high wage, high skill, high productivity, and low tax economy”
In his leader’s speech, the PM said reforming the housing market and boosting infrastructure would help level up the economy.
And he vowed to deliver a “long overdue” change in approach by controlling immigration to boost wages.
The 45-minute conference address was his first directly to Tory members since the Covid pandemic.
In an upbeat speech peppered with jokes, he said reducing regional inequality was the “greatest project that any government can embark on”.
Reducing “aching gaps” in opportunity between regions, he insisted, would “take the pressure off” south-eastern England as well as boosting places that felt left behind.
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Better broadband, cracking down on crime and better transport links were all referenced as tools to boost the levelling up agenda.
This week’s conference in Manchester has taken place amid concerns over rising inflation, supply chain problems, and petrol and worker shortages.
But Mr Johnson insisted that the “present stresses and strains” were the result of an economic rebound in the wake of Covid shutdowns.
He added that a new direction on immigration would deliver on the Brexit referendum and represent the “change that people voted for”, while also promising to end declining home ownership among young people by building more homes around the country.
He announced a £3,000 yearly premium for teachers, as an incentive for struggling areas of England to recruit maths and science teachers.
“There is no reason why the inhabitants of one part of the country should be geographically fated to be poorer than others,” he said.
“You will find talent, genius, flair, imagination, enthusiasm – all of them evenly distributed around this country. But opportunity is not.
“And it is our mission as Conservatives to promote opportunity with every tool we have.”
Speaking before the Budget later this month, he defended his recent decision to hike taxes to pay for the NHS and social care, – a move which has angered some of his own MPs.
He insisted that raising taxes to pay for investment was more responsible than allowing borrowing to rise further, adding that the pandemic had left a “huge hole” in the public finances.
He added that former Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher – an idol of the party’s right wing – would have agreed with his approach.
“She would have wagged her finger and said that more borrowing now is just higher interest rates and even higher taxes later,” he said.
Boris Johnson is an optimist.
The prime minister wants a new economic model with better pay and conditions. He wants to persuade voters his is the party to distribute wealth and opportunity more evenly across the UK. He wants people to feel good about the future.
Levelling up has been the slogan repeated by ministers at this conference. We only got a slither of meat on the bones today. This was a speech thin on policy, big on jokes and rhetorical flourishes.
Conservatives love Mr Johnson because he makes them feel good – it’s a strategy that is key to understanding his success as a politician.
But will it be enough? There are some difficult months ahead for many people.
Rising prices, supply chain issues, the end of the universal credit top-up and furlough.
Many Conservatives acknowledge the cost of living squeeze – and are worried about the impact. Critics will accuse the prime minister of ignoring those big issues in favour of what they see as vague promises for the future.
But the hope in Manchester was that Boris Johnson’s unflinchingly upbeat vision of a post-Brexit, post-pandemic Britain is as popular with voters as it is with Tory activists.
#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Oct.06: 2021:
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