Tuesday 30 June 2020 6:36 pm

DEBATE: Did Boris Johnson's 'Build, build, build' speech succeed in rebooting his premiership?

John Oxley is a Conservative commentator
Matt Kilcoyne
Matt Kilcoyne is deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute

Did Boris Johnson’s speech succeed in rebooting his premiership?

John Oxley, a Conservative commentator, says YES.

Boris is back in business. He has mastered his own recovery from coronavirus and is now ready to tackle the nation’s. 

It is a challenge he would have never expected when he entered Downing Street, and an important evolution of his premiership.

Johnson’s economic approach had been predicated on favourable conditions. He was going to keep the spending taps on because the economy was growing, ensuring that the boom flowed through to level up left behind areas. That he is still committed to it as we plunge into a recession is a new direction.

This reboot is not so much about what the Prime Minister said, but what he didn’t. There is no return to austerity, there is no hard medicine. He remains on the same track despite the changing circumstances, accelerating into the difficulties rather than turning away from them.

This reconfirms and reinvigorates Johnson’s position as a high spending Tory, sticking to his levelling up agenda, shovel in hand.

Read more: Industry reacts as Boris Johnson lays out ‘New Deal’ recovery plan

Matt Kilcoyne, deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute, says NO.

Boris Johnson’s speech didn’t reboot his premiership — mostly because there’s little to reboot. 

It was just three months since his election win when the virus shut down our country, and government policy is under the microscope. This recession is caused by the state restricting revenue raising, not by a financial crash or a demand side shock. 

Johnson used grand rhetoric today, but the actions announced were mostly a list of pledges he’s already made. Welcome planning reform proposals aside, there was little new to help Britain bounce back.

As we lift lockdown, we need to make it easier to transact, cheaper to employ people, simpler to invest, and less punitive to bring in money from overseas. Namely, to do more as we attempt to get back to normal of all the things that make us prosperous in the first place. Raise the threshold employer’s national insurance, bring down capital gains tax, scrap the factory tax, scrap stamp duty. 

None of these were in the Prime Minister’s gift yesterday. We wait for Rishi. 

Read more: Boris Johnson’s New Deal: PM invokes Roosevelt in ‘radical’ infrastructure overhaul

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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