Boris Johnson: Government has 'guts' to tackle major issues and reshape UK economy

5 October 2021, 22:41 | Updated: 6 October 2021, 01:34

Boris Johnson will deliver his speech on Wednesday.
Boris Johnson will deliver his speech on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to declare that his Government has the 'guts' to reshape the British economy and make difficult decisions.

Mr Johnson will also attempt to define his "levelling up" agenda in his keynote speech at the Conservative conference on Wednesday, arguing that boosting "left behind" parts of the country will ease pressure on the "overheating" south-east of England.

It comes amid the ongoing supply chain crisis and labour shortages that have led to warnings of empty shelves in shops at Christmas, the army being drafted in to help with driving tankers and hundreds of pigs being culled due to a lack of abattoir staff.

He will tell activists in Manchester that the Government is "embarking now on the change of direction that has been long overdue in the UK economy".

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The Prime Minister prepared his speech ahead of Wednesday.
The Prime Minister prepared his speech ahead of Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

"We are not going back to the same old broken model with low wages, low growth, low skills and low productivity, all of it enabled and assisted by uncontrolled immigration," he is expected to say.

"The answer is to control immigration, to allow people of talent to come to this country but not to use immigration as an excuse for failure to invest in people, in skills and in the equipment or machinery they need to do their jobs."

Instead, he will promise "the greatest project that any Government can embark on" by "uniting and levelling up across the UK".

That means moving "towards a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy that the people of this country need and deserve, in which everyone can take pride in their work and the quality of their work".

The Prime Minister is set to highlight the progress the Government has already made, while promising to end the failure by successive Governments to grasp big issues.

One of the problems he will highlight is social care, which the Tories have promised to reform using money raised from a 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance from April 2022.

"After decades of drift and dither, this reforming Government, this can-do Government that got Brexit done, is getting the vaccine rollout done and is going to get social care done," he will declare.

"We are dealing with the biggest underlying issues of our economy and society.

"The problems that no Government has had the guts to tackle before."

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The Prime Minister's promise to "level up" parts of the country that had missed out on the economic success of London and the south-east was a key part of his pitch to voters in former Labour areas - the so-called Red Wall.

However, there have since been concerns among Tories about the focus on northern areas.

Mr Johnson will attempt to bridge that gap by insisting that all parts of the UK can benefit from his plans.

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"There is no reason why the inhabitants of one part of the country should be geographically fated to be poorer than others," he will say.

"Or why people should feel they have to move away from their loved ones or communities to reach their potential."

Levelling-up is intended to help "take the pressure off parts of the overheating south-east, while simultaneously offering hope and opportunity to those areas that have felt left behind".

Mr Johnson will go on to say: "If you want the idea in a nutshell it is that 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."