‘THE STATE must step back and let the private sector get to work,’ Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared in his virtual Tory Party Conference speech yesterday.
He warned that the UK will ‘not return to normal’ after the coronavirus pandemic, which would be a ‘catalyst’ for major change.
He said he would make the UK a ‘world leader in green energy’, announcing £160m of investment in ports and factories to increase electricity generation from offshore wind.
He claimed wind power could generate enough electricity to power every UK home by 2030.
He said: ‘I’ve read a lot of nonsense recently about how my own bout of Covid has somehow robbed me of my mojo. Of course this is self-evident drivel …’
However, he went on: ‘I have to admit the reason I had such a nasty experience with the disease was that although I was superficially in the pink of health when I caught it I had a very common underlying condition – I was too fat … But I searched for the hero inside of me and lost 26 pounds in weight.’
He went on fatuously: ‘When you look at the economic condition of the country, when we went into lockdown, there was a similarity, because we were, on the face of it, in pretty good shape, we had a record number of people in jobs, we had record low unemployment …
‘And yet if you looked more carefully, you could see and indeed many of us said so at the time, the UK economy had some chronic underlying problems.’
Johnson went on: ‘We must create the conditions for a dynamic recovery that is led, not by the state, but by free enterprise.
‘We need to move fast, not just to deal with the immediate economic fall-out, but because after 12 years of relative anaemia we need to lift the trend rate of growth.’
He warned: ‘We need the economic robustness to deal with whatever cosmic spanner that may be hurtling towards us in the dark. The only way to ensure true resilience and long-term prosperity is to raise the overall productivity of the country.’
He went on: ‘If we are to raise productivity and encourage investment in the UK then there is one thing we must do as a matter of basic hygiene and that is to fight crime.
‘So yes, we are fulfilling our manifesto commitment to put another 20,000 officers out on the street. I’m proud that we’ve already recruited almost 5,000.’
Johnson complained that the pandemic has forced a massive expansion of the role of the state, but warned against drawing the ‘wrong economic conclusion from this crisis.
‘Bail-outs and subsidies to prop up the economy go against our instincts,’ he said, but there was ‘simply no reasonable alternative’.
‘There are many who regard this state expansion as progress, who want to keep the state supporting furlough forever, keep people in suspended animation,’ he said.
‘We Conservatives believe that way lies disaster, and that we must build back better by becoming more competitive, both in tax and regulation. I have a simple message for all those on the left, the Labour Party, who think everything should be funded by Uncle Sugar, the taxpayer. It isn’t the state which produces the new drugs, the therapies we’re now using. It’s the private sector. We must not draw the wrong economic conclusions from this crisis.’
Concluding with the announcement that planning regulations are to be trashed, he warned: ‘We will transform the sclerotic planning system,’ and then repeated: ‘The state must stand back and let the private sector get on with it.’