Johnson promises ‘long-standing’ overhaul of post-Brexit UK economy


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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson rallies his Conservative Party loyalists on Wednesday, promising a major overhaul to wean the UK economy off cheap foreign labor after Brexit.

Ignoring panic shopping at gas stations, bare supermarket shelves and warnings from retailers of a gloomy Christmas ahead, the Conservative leader says the short-term pain is well worth it.

“We are dealing with the biggest underlying issues in our economy and our society,” he is expected to say in his closing speech at the conference, according to excerpts released by the party.

“Problems that no government has had the courage to solve before.

“Because we are now embarking on the long-awaited change of direction in the UK economy,” Johnson will say, promising not to revert to the pre-Brexit “runaway immigration” model.

Instead, UK businesses will need to invest in their workers and technology to push the country “towards an economy with high wages, high skills and high productivity”.

But the transition will take time. In the meantime, the government has reluctantly accepted a limited number of short-term visas to attract truckers and poultry farmers from Eastern Europe.

For opposition parties and anti-poverty activists, Johnson’s pledge to “level” uneven growth also comes up against a weekly increase in benefits for lower-paid workers at the end of Wednesday.

As the prime minister put the finishing touches on his speech, protesters nearby condemned the “conservative lies” and played the Soviet / Russian national anthem aloud.

Johnson’s attempt to draw a line between his administration and previous governments that lacked ‘switchgear’ overlooks the fact that the Conservative Party has been in power since 2010.

Johnson wants to end what he says is an unchecked immigration addiction that has kept wages low Stefan Rousseau SWIMMING POOL / AFP

In contrast, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak – considered by many observers to be the heir apparent to 10 Downing Street – emphasizes continuity with the Conservative tradition of fiscal rectitude.

– Climatic silence –

The government attributes the severe labor shortages plaguing the UK economy not to its hardline approach to Brexit, but to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the supply crisis risks undermining the themes Johnson is expected to emphasize in his conference speech, including accelerating economic growth in the UK and in “world Britain” after the divorce from the United Kingdom. EU.

Johnson's government attributes severe labor shortages plaguing the UK economy not to its hard-line approach to Brexit, but to the coronavirus pandemic
Johnson’s government attributes severe labor shortages plaguing the UK economy not to its hardline Brexit approach, but to the coronavirus pandemic Paul ELLIS AFP

He is also expected to talk about Britain’s action on climate change and the need for global coordination, ahead of the convening of the two-week COP26 climate summit in Scotland from October 31.

Visiting the exhibitor booths at the conference on Tuesday, Johnson rode an electric bike, boarded an electric tractor and played with a puzzle to assemble a zero-carbon energy house.

But during the Conservative rally as a whole, the topic of climate change has been relegated to the background.

Sunak said on Monday that it would be “immoral” to bequeath debt due to a pandemic to future generations, but made no mention of saving those generations from a burning planet.

The omission was a “damaging sign” ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, commented Rebecca Newsom, policy officer at Greenpeace UK.

“Spending more money on green infrastructure now would save huge costs down the road and create millions of new jobs across the UK,” she said.

Johnson has become fair for stopping social benefit increases introduced during the pandemic and tax hikes to cover funding for health care and social services
Johnson has become fair for ending the increase in social benefits introduced during the pandemic and tax increases to cover funding for health care and social services Oli AFP SCARF

Foreign Minister Liz Truss also made no reference to the C-word – climate – in her speech on Sunday, while pledging to support “greener” growth and “clean infrastructure” in developing countries.

– The B word –

In contrast, the B word – Brexit – has been a recurring theme for delegates from Johnson’s party, confident that the current issues associated with the EU split will be resolved.

Johnson's key policy is to tackle economic inequality across Britain after Brexit and the pandemic
Johnson’s key policy is to tackle economic inequality across Britain after Brexit and the pandemic Paul ELLIS AFP

Brexit Minister David Frost chided the “anti-growth ideologies” and “lingering miserability” of the “anti-transport, anti-car” lobby.

Home Secretary Priti Patel used her own conference speech on Tuesday to pledge tougher action against climate protesters blocking roads around London.

The Prime Minister called the demonstrators “irresponsible crisp”.

But Johnson’s COP26 chairman Alok Sharma denied the party was softly supporting climate change with less than a month before welcoming delegates from around the world to Glasgow.

“Cabinet colleagues actually understand why getting it right is vitally important,” the former business minister told a small audience on the sidelines of the main conference.

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