The Speaker
Sunday, 21 July 2024 – 07:46

Johnson sets out plans to ‘Build Back Better’ and invest into green economy

Boris Johnson has laid out plans at the virtual Conservative Party Conference for how his Government aims to ‘Build Back Better’ following the Coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Johnson, who himself suffered a battle against COVID-19, told the conference that he’d had “more than enough of this disease”, adding “your government is working night and day to repel this virus and we will succeed just as this country has seen off every alien invader for the last thousand years and we will succeed by collective effort, by following the guidance”.

The Prime Minister set out multiple plans as part of his vision for the future, saying that “after all we’ve been through, it isn’t enough to just go back to normal.”

Key topics in Mr Johnson’s speech included the health service, education and training, and also plans to invest into the ‘green economy’.


“We’ve lost too much, we’ve mourned too many”

During his speech, the Conservative leader described how he wanted to get back to a time where “hairdressers no longer look like they are handling radioactive isotopes” and “when we no longer have to greet each other by touching elbows as in some giant national version of the birdie dance”.

However, Johnson also explained why he felt that it “isn’t enough to just go back to normal”. Mr Johnson said;

“History teaches us that events of this magnitude – wars, famines, plagues, events that affect the vast bulk of humanity as this virus has, they don’t just come and go – they are more often than not the trigger for an acceleration of social and economic change because we human beings will simply not content ourselves with a repair job. We see these moments as the time to learn and improve on the world that went before and that’s why this government will build back better.”


A message on the PM’s own COVID journey

The Prime Minister said that he “had to admit” that the reason he had “such a nasty experience” of COVID-19 was that he had a very common underlying health condition – he was “too fat”.

Earlier in the year, Mr Johnson was admitted to hospital and then to an intensive care unit after contracting the Coronavirus.

He said that before catching the virus, he had been “superficially in the peak of health”, however, that he was “too fat” – he used this as an analogy to describe how the economy was in good shape ahead of the pandemic, but that some areas had key issues.

Johnson said that since catching the virus, he has lost 26 pounds, saying “you can imagine that in bags of sugar”, adding that he is “going to continue that diet”.


Clean-powered future

Johnson mentioned multiple areas of investment in his speech, in particular the health service, police and education. The key announcement by the PM was concerning the ‘green economy’, which he said was one area in which the government is “progressing with gale-force speed”.

The PM told the virtual conference;

“I can today announce that the UK Government has decided to become the world leader in low-cost clean power generation – cheaper than coal, cheaper than gas and we believe that in ten years time, offshore wind will be powering every home in the country”

“You heard me right – your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle, the whole lot of them will get their juice clean and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands”

Johnson said that the government will invest £160 million in ports and factories across the country to manufacture “the next generation” of turbines and windmills that “float on the sea.” Relating the investment to jobs, the PM said: “this investment in offshore wind alone will help to create 60 thousand jobs in this country and help us to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”.

The PM also announced a plan to vastly cut housing deposits in the future to support more young people in buying homes.


“We must not draw the wrong economic conclusion from this crisis”

Johnson praised the Chancellor Rishi Sunak for his work during the pandemic but said that he had taken action that a Conservative chancellor would never normally wish to take. 

The PM said: “There comes a moment when the state must stand back and let the private sector get on with it”.

Johnson criticised the Labour Party multiple times towards the end of his speech, such as for wanting the government to extend the furlough scheme. Johnson said;

“I have a simple message for all those on the left, the Labour Party who think everything can be funded by Uncle Sugar, the taxpayer – it isn’t the state that produces the new drugs and therapies we’re now using, it isn’t the state that will hold the intellectual property of the vaccine if and when we get one. It wasn’t the state that made the gloves and the masks and the ventilators that we needed as such speed – it was the private sector with its rational interest in innovation and competition and market share and yes, sales.”



Following the speech, Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said in two tweets that the government is “holding Britain back”: 

“The British people needed to hear the PM set out how he will get a grip of the crisis. Instead we got the usual bluff and bluster and no plan for the months ahead.”

“We end this Conservative conference as we started it: with a shambolic testing system, millions of jobs at risk and an incompetent government that has lost control of this virus and is holding Britain back.”

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party welcomed the confirmation of the Prime Minister’s “conversion to wind power” but warned “it still falls far short of what is urgently needed and what could be achieved”.

Johnson’s speech was welcomed by Brandon Lewis and other Conservative MPs – the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said: “It is for our generation & this Government, to transform our country & to #BuildBackBetter with so much opportunity to deliver on.”

It is not immediately clear how the investment plans set out by Mr Johnson will be funded – something that has been questioned by a number of politicians. 


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