Boris Johnson has vowed a complete post-Covid transformation of Britain that will be driven by the private sector and the free market.
The Prime Minister’s Conservative party conference speech outlined the government’s vision of a new Britain by emphasising improved infrastructure, fixing the country’s housing shortage, investing in wind power and increasing skills for young people.
Johnson invoked the words of post-war Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee by calling for a “new Jerusalem” as the UK recovers from the coronavirus.
However, the Prime Minister added that while the government would create the conditions for the recovery, that it must be the private sector who drives the country’s future economy.
He said the government “must not draw the wrong economic conclusion from this crisis”.
“There comes a moment where the state must stand back and let the private sector get on with it,” he said.
“I have a simple message for all those on the left, the Labour party, who think everything can be funded by ‘Uncle Sugar’. It isn’t the state that produces the new drugs and the 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 who built the gloves and the masks and the ventilators we needed at such speed. It was the private sector with it’s rational interest in innovation and competition and market share and, yes, sales.”
The Prime Minister’s conference speech outlined a plan to invest £160m in offshore wind power, with a claim that it could power every home by 2030, adding that “as Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind”.
The funding commitment will be the start of the UK’s efforts to become the world’s leader in wind power, according to Johnson.
He also unveiled a scheme to give all young people access to mortgages that only require a 5 per cent down payment in a bid to turn “generation rent into generation buy”.
This comes alongside the government’s planning reforms, which aim to help build millions of new homes.
“We will fix the long-term problems of this country not by endlessly expanding the state, but by giving power back to people – the fundamental life-affirming power of home ownership, the power to decide what colour to paint your own front door,” Johnson said.
Johnson also focussed on fixing some of the UK economy’s “chronic underlying problems”, such as low productivity and crumbling infrastructure in parts of the country.
He re-committed his party to its election winning agenda to “level up” the economically deprived parts of the country in the North and Midlands by building more hospitals, making it easier to gain further education training and tens of billions of pounds in new infrastructure spending.
The Prime Minister said it was “not good enough” to go back to “normality” after the pandemic ends.
He said: “In the depths of the second world war, in 1942 when just about everything had gone wrong, the government sketched out a vision of the post war new Jerusalem that they wanted to build. And that is what we are doing now – in the teeth of this pandemic.
“We are resolving not to go back to 2019, but to do better: to reform our system of government, to renew our infrastructure; to spread opportunity more widely and fairly and to create the conditions for a dynamic recovery that is led not by the state but by free enterprise.”