Boris Johnson, in an optimistic speech to the Conservative Conference, promised to deal with huge inequalities that make some cities far poorer than others.
He placed the fight against organized drug gangs at the center of his “leveling policy” as he insisted that Britain “change direction” to become a high-paying, high-quality economy.
Some commentators found the conference speech, which was full of jokes, to be rambling and poorly detailed. However, it delighted conservative activists at the Manchester meeting.
The appreciation and unification of the United Kingdom is “the biggest project any government can tackle,” said Johnson.
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He said the UK is being “slowed down” by divisions between regions – with some parts of England being poorer than others – but also by divisions within regions, with residents of some cities having a longer life expectancy than people nearby.
Explaining what he meant by leveling up, he said, “The idea is you find talent, genius, and flair” evenly distributed across the country while opportunities are not evenly distributed.
The Prime Minister said reducing crime and dealing with drug gangs of the “county borders” were part of the upgrade. He said: “It is still a grim fact in this country that children will grow up in areas that are much less safe than others, some will be dragged into gangs, some will be threatened with knife fights and shootings, some will be caught themselves.” in the one-way street of the criminal justice system, many others do not.
“So leveling up means fighting crime, getting more police on board, increasing penalties, rolling up the county borders drug network – 1,100 of which have already disappeared – and giving the police the powers they need to fight those dealers in town. ” Death and misery. That’s what we want to do. “
Addressing concerns about violence against women, he said, “We will not rest until we increase successful rape prosecutions.” Mr Johnson said too many men took advantage of delays in the legal system to avoid prosecution.
In one of the few firm political announcements for the speech, Mr. Johnson announced a “leveling up” bonus worth up to £ 3,000 to encourage science and math teachers to go to different areas of the country.
He said, “On top of the extra £ 14 billion we are putting into education and on top of the increase that means every teacher starts on a £ 30,000 salary, we are announcing an increase in bonuses of up to £ 3,000 today to send the best math and science teachers to the places where they are most needed. “
The Prime Minister also indicated that the government would support a planned rail project called the Midlands Rail Hub, which will improve connections between the West Midlands and the East Midlands, saying, “We are going to do Northern Powerhouse Rail. We will be the cities of the Midlands and the North. “
Mr Johnson boasted of beating Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 general election, saying the Tories had “sent this communist corduroy cosmonaut into orbit where he belonged”.
He boasted that the UK had ended lockdown restrictions faster than many other countries due to the success of the vaccination program.
Mr Johnson highlighted plans to change the country’s welfare system, saying that health services would be provided by a national system, the NHS, while welfare services would be provided by local councils. This may have made sense when the NHS was created, he said, but it didn’t work today.
Services would be bought more closely together, for example by ensuring that one set of medical records is used by both services, Mr Johnson said.
And he insisted that he “take care of the welfare”.
Mr Johnson suggested that companies could use cheap immigration workers to avoid training British workers and paying good wages, which appeared to be an indirect indication of a recent shortage of truck drivers.
He said wages would go up and told his audience, “We are now beginning a change of direction that is long overdue” in the UK economy.
Despite his comments on immigration, he insisted that he support the reception of refugees in the UK, such as people coming from Hong Kong or Afghanistan, as long as they come here legally.
However, Britain must prevent people smugglers from illegally crossing the Channel, saying: “We will fight these gangs at home and abroad.”
What follows is a convention that was largely uneventful, devoid of the internal disputes that characterized the Labor Assembly a week earlier.
Some Tories, including former Labor and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, spoke out against the government’s decision to end a £ 20-a-week universal loan hike. The benefit cut began on the day of Mr. Johnson’s speech. Even so, there was no evidence of a threat to Mr Johnson’s position as leader, while a number of left-wing MPs openly opposed Starmer at the Labor event.
The Conservative conference came as the nation continued to experience fuel shortages and reports of some food shortages caused by a truck driver shortage that some of the government’s critics linked to Brexit and the end of free movement.
Mr Johnson tried to use this to his advantage during his speech, suggesting that immigration control would result in high wages for British workers.