MANCHESTER, England – Boris Johnson promised to “unleash” the British spirit with a “reforming, capable government” in a bombastic speech at the Conservative Party Congress, aimed at the next election.
The UK Prime Minister promised a “change of direction” for the UK – despite the Conservatives in power for 11 years – which he believed would be achieved by controlling immigration and improving opportunities in disadvantaged parts of the UK
Almost devoid of political details, but very popular with the party’s believers, the speech showed Johnson in a triumphant mood even as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and post-Brexit supply chain problems that he insists that they are temporary.
Johnson targeted “the same broken model of low wages, low growth, low skills, and low productivity” that he said was “enabled and supported by uncontrolled immigration”.
Returning to his flagship national “leveling” agenda, Johnson lamented the fact that “talent, genius, intuition, imagination, enthusiasm” were evenly distributed across the country while “opportunities were not”.
The only political announcement of his speech was on the subject, with the Prime Minister pledging a £ 3,000 funding award to send the best math and science teachers in the country to the parts of the country where they are most needed.
The speech had the feel of a campaign rally held outside a crowded hall of activists holding posters as Johnson used his traditional rhetoric and elaborate rainfall.
He described the former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “communist cord cosmonaut”, while the new Labor leader Keir Starmer was dismissed as a “rattled bus conductor”.
And he defended the AUKUS security pact that Great Britain recently signed with the USA and Australia with full throat, describing it as an example of “something daring and brilliant that simply would not have happened if we had stayed in the EU”.
“AUKUS is simply an acknowledgment of the reality that the world is tilting on its own axis and that trade and relationships in the Indo-Pacific region are becoming more important than ever,” he added.
Johnson also nodded to the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow, which he said would “test the determination of the world” – as he warned, “The government cannot do it alone and taxpayers cannot do it alone “.
The prime minister was optimistic about his own proposed manifesto-breaking tax hike aimed at bolstering health and welfare funds. It’s an unpopular decision among many Tories, but Johnson argued that conservative heroine Margaret Thatcher took the same step. And he asked, “Is anyone seriously imagining that we shouldn’t raise the funds now to sort this out? [the NHS] the end?”
Johnson covered a broad field, cheering Margaret Thatcher, bankers and the NHS – and highlighting the difficult task Labor is seeking in attempting to rebuild after the 2019 election campaign.