BORIS Johnson today vowed to unleash the fighting spirit of Emma Raducanu and England footie heroes in Britain’s “left-behind” areas.
The PM told his Tory troops he had the “guts” to drive through radical levelling-up where his “dithering” predecessors had failed.
In a gag-laden speech the upbeat Tory leader tried to flesh out his flagship mission to throw an arm around poorer Northern towns and cement his grip on the Red Wall.
The only new policy announcement was a £3,000 cash handout for teachers to recruit and retain more for schools in deprived areas.
He also pledged to pump money to improve roads in the north like the A1 north of Berwick up to Scotland.
On his bid to give kids in the North the same chances as the south, Mr Johnson hailed the fighting spirit of underdog tennis champ Radacanu, the Three Lions and our Olympic heroes.
The PM thundered to a packed hall: “That is the spirit that is the same across this country.
“In every town and village and city, that can be found in the hearts and minds of kids growing up everywhere.
“And that is the spirit we are going to unleash.”
In key developments:
- Boris deployed his secret weapon Carrie who he kissed in the hall
- He vowed to make good on his promise to fix the social care crisis
- He branded Michael Gove “Jon Bon Govey” for his disco dancing
- He blasted Insulate Britain and was pleased Priti Patel was “insulating them snugly in prison where they belong”
- The PM said people have to get back to the office after the pandemic
- He hailed the deal with the US to sell them Welsh lamb as “build back burger”
- And he burnished his conservationist credentials by joking he was “building back beaver”
With Brexit done and the pandemic waning, Mr Johnson is under pressure to deliver on his loosely-defined agenda to level up the North.
But rather than putting meat on the bones with key policy announcements the PM used his address to rally Tory members to his mission.
He said: “The idea in a nutshell is you will find talent, genius, care, imagination and enthusiasm everywhere in this country, all of them evenly distributed but opportunity is not.”
MAGGIE FOR TAXES
As well as parking his tanks on Labour’s lawn by love-bombing working class heartlands Mr Johnson also threw some red meat to the Tory faithful.
He championed capitalism and said the vaccine rollout was made possible by “companies and shareholders and, yes, bankers”.
The PM defended controversial tax rises by insisting Tory heroine Margaret Thatcher would have done the same in the face of Covid.
He said: “Margaret Thatcher would not have ignored this meteorite that has just crashed through the public finances
“She would have wagged her finger and said more borrowing now is just higher interest rates and even higher taxes later.”
National insurance contributions and dividend levies are due to rise by 1.5 per cent next year.
Secret weapon Carrie – who goes down a storm with the Tory faithful – hugged her husband on the stage as he finished.
But some Cabinet Ministers in the front row were nursing sore heads after partying the night away belting karaoke.
Mr Johnson branded Housing Secretary Mr Gove “Jon Bon Govey” after he spent last night dancing at the end of conference karaoke bash.
NO MORE DITHER
Mr Johnson vowed to use his remaining time in No10 to grasp the nettle and took a swipe at predecessors David Cameron and Theresa May for wasting time.
Mr Johnson said: “After decades of drift and dither, this reforming government, this can-do government that got Brexit done, is getting the vaccine roll-out done and is going to get social care done.
“We are dealing with the biggest underlying issues of our economy and society. The problems that no government has had the guts to tackle before.”
Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds said: “Boris Johnson’s vacuous speech summed up this whole Conservative conference.
“The PM talked more about beavers than he did about action to tackle the multiple crises facing working people up and down the country.”
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