U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke at a Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Wednesday. Here is your rundown.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke at the Conservative conference in Manchester. He gave the speech to a packed assembly, most of whom appeared to respond positively to his key points.
The Prime Minister opened his speech by paying tribute to his predecessor, Theresa May. He thanked May for her service and said that the current government would continue with her work “tackling domestic violence and modern slavery and building on [May’s] legacy”.
He swiftly moved on to praise such areas as: hospitals, which he claimed are “finally getting the investment to match the devotion of the staff”; schools, where he cited “standards of reading are rising through the use of synthetic phonics”; police colleges, where he said “idealistic young men and women are enrolling in large numbers”; and higher production in shipyards in Scotland. Some of which he returns to later in his speech.
Labour and The Opposition
PM Johnson then moved in to attack the previous Labour government, stating that this Conservative government have “tackled the debt and the deficit left behind by the last Labour government”. He praised this government for “clearing up the wreckage [Labour] left behind” and attributed such achievements to this government as: “record employment”; wages “rising the fastest for ten years”; and “record foreign direct investment of £1.3 trillion” which Johnson claimed is more than any other country in the European Union.
Later in his speech he would criticise some of the ideas that the Labour Party and Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn proposed at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on September 21, calling them “damaging and retrograde” and labelled the Labour Party as “fratricidal, anti-Semitic Marxists”. Towards the end of his speech, Johnson said it had become clear that Corbyn is “determined to frustrate Brexit”.
Johnson further spoke about the growing possibility of a coalition between Labour and the SNP (Scottish National Party) and what he called a “programme of total, national discord”, citing the intention of the two parties to turn 2020 into a “chaos and cacophony of two more referendums” (referring to second Scottish Independence and European Union referendums).
Johnson scolded the Liberal Democrats for their hard anti-Brexit stance and jibed that is was “time to respect the Trades [sic] Descriptions Act, my friends, and take the word ‘democrat’ out of Liberal Democrats”.
Addressing the elephant in the room, Johnson described Britain like “a world-class athlete with a pebble in our shoe”. He makes many metaphors about the performance of Parliament as of late, describing Parliament as “on the blink”.
He moved on to chide the House of Commons, which he stated “refuses to deliver Brexit, refuses to do anything constructive, and refuses to have an election”. He then described Brexit as a “super-masticated subject” which is taking focus from the priorities of the voters.
The Prime Minister claimed that the voters, leavers, remainers, and the whole world wants the U.K. “calmly and sensibly done” with Brexit, and again repeated that the U.K. will be leaving the EU on October 31 “come what may”. He once again criticised what he has been calling “the surrender bill”, saying that it has not made things easy but that “we must come out by the end of October”.
The Prime Minister repeatedly says “let’s get it done” in regards to Brexit, reeling off the list of what he believes to be the positives of leaving the European Union, citing “the opportunities that it will bring”.
PM Johnson also stressed that the Conservative Party, and the U.K. as a whole, are not “an anti-European” party or country, and that “we are European”. Sentiments which received rounds of applause from the crowd.
Further speaking of the talks between Johnson and the EU around an alternative to the Irish backstop, a sticking point for Parliament in the proposed EU Withdrawal Agreement, Johnson said that what he believes to be “constructive and reasonable proposals” are being tabled.
Johnson further reiterated his stance that “under no circumstances” will there be “checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland” and that they will “respect the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement”. Johnson also went further to say that they would also “protect the existing regulatory arrangements for farmers and businesses on both sides of the border”.
However, Johnson stressed that if no agreement is made by October 31, the U.K. would still be leaving with a no-deal Brexit, something many citizens and MPs have resisted and campaigned against. The Prime Minister stated, however, that this is not an outcome the Conservatives want nor seek but for which they are ready.
The entire speech was peppered with the repeated phrase “let’s get Brexit done on October 31”.
The NHS, Police, Infrastructure and Environment
The Prime Minister later turned his attention to the infrastructure and services of the United Kingdom.
Johnson described the Conservatives as the “party of the NHS”, citing that of the seventy years of the NHS, forty-four of them were under a Conservative government.
Johnson later pledged to build forty new hospitals across the country within the next ten years; what he described as “the most in a generation”.
The Prime Minister further pledged to recruit 20,000 police officers and to introduce stop-and-search powers, which he admitted are controversial but believes to be necessary in the prevention of crime. Johnson also committed to be “tough on crime” but to also introduce more “rehabilitation” and “education” in prisons, so that “they are not just academies for crime”.
Johnson then tackled the issue of transport within the U.K. The PM cited his government’s investments in transport, including the Northern Powerhouse Rail project and a programme of road improvements.
Admitting to being a “bus nut”, Johnson continued on to state that he wants to make the U.K. busses “cleaner, greener, zero carbon, zero emission” across the country with “contactless payment by card or by phone” to make the services more accessible and desirable to “reduce congestion” and to “reduce pollution”.
Along the lines of improving transport, Johnson also cited the idea of a West Midlands metro system, which would link up the urban centres of the West Midlands.
Speaking about the environment, Johnson pressed Britain’s pledge to become “carbon neutral by 2050”, a target he appeared positive was achievable by utilising new technologies and that the U.K. can “beat the sceptics”.
Towards the end of his speech, PM Johnson laid out his vision for the United Kingdom post-Brexit.
The Prime Minister continued with his positive sentiments regarding Britain’s post-Brexit future, and to “reboot our politics” and to “relaunch” the U.K. into the world.
Prime Minister Johnson ended his some forty minute speech by saying, “let’s get Brexit done and let’s bring this country together.”