Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delivered a crowd pleasing speech to the Conservative Party conference.
In a speech which had the crowd cheering and laughing with references to Michael Gove as “Jon Bon Govie” and calling Lord Frost “the greatest frost since 1709”, the Prime Minister joked that it was Frost’s powers of persuasion that have led Michel Barnier to his recent views that France should take back control, as the UK has done.
The Prime Minister defended conservative values – free people, free markets, free speech and said the Conservatives will defend British history from “cancel culture iconoclasm”.
He said it is not because “we are proud of everything” but trying to change history is as “as dishonest as a celebrity trying to furtively change his Wikipedia entry”.
The Prime Minister also offered a defence of Sir Winston Churchill against claims he was a racist, adding:
The PM told the conference the country is going “towards a high-wage, high-skill, high productivity and, yes, low tax economy.”
Other pledges from Mr Johnson included planting more trees, increasing rape prosecutions and tackling people traffickers.
Boris Johnson invoked Margaret Thatcher to justify his manifesto-breaking tax rise to pay for NHS and social care, saying the Iron Lady “wouldn’t have ignored the meteorite that has just crashed through our economy”.
He said when he was “lying in St Thomas’s Hospital” he looked “blearily” out of the window, where a hole was being dug “for something or indeed perhaps someone – possibly me”. On a recent visit, he said he saw that the hole had been filled in by a new three story hospital department.
This is a metaphor for how the country must “build back better”, he added.
The PM also praised the UK’s sporting prowess, saying it is “incredible” that the UK came fourth in the Olympics and second at the Paralympics despite our relative population size. He said the spirit of Emma Raducanu is “evident in the conference hall and this is what the country must harness.”
The Prime Minister also talked about the fears around dementia, saying that the Government “stands by” those who risk destitution to pay for social care.
But “we aren’t going to siphon taxes” to pay for it without reform, he said, vowing that the health and social care levy will not be spent on “needless bureaucracy”. He also told the cheering crowd medical records would be digitised further to make this easier between medical departments. He added:
Boris Johnson said it was his mission as a Conservative to ensure opportunity is equally spread around the country.
Boris returned to his overarching theme about levelling up, as he highlighted a London school’s success in exam results.
He announced a “levelling-up premium” worth up to £3,000 to encourage science and maths teachers to head to different areas of the country.
The PM said it was the private sector – including bankers – that helped develop the vaccine and acknowledged that Oxford University was involved but stressed that without capitalism, “it would not have been possible.”
The PM then turned to climate change, saying the Government is “taking the tough decisions” to meet net zero.
The Prime Minister said Sir Keir Starmer spent the pandemic “flapping with the conviction of a damp tea towel”.
He also claimed that Labour “attacked the vaccine taskforce for spending money on outreach to vaccine-hesitant minority groups”.
Boris then spoke about Britain’s exciting new freeports, and improving regulation in “growth areas… so we can fulfil our ambition of being a science and tech superpower”.
The Prime Minister was cheered as he mentioned the US was importing British beef again.
“Build back burger,” he told the cheering conference.
His wife, Carrie Johnson joined the Prime Minister on the stage and the pair walked off to rapturous applause.
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