November 24, 2020
It’s probably not a date you’ll have saved in your diary, but it was exactly a year ago today that our prime minister, Boris Johnson, launched the Conservative Party manifesto. No one watching that launch in Telford could have foreseen the challenges we would face over the year ahead. Although that manifesto launch may now seem a lifetime ago amid the battle against the coronavirus, we haven’t forgotten the promises we made and were elected on by the British public.
The pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge that has required an unprecedented response, both from the government and from us all. It certainly wasn’t in our manifesto to directly pay the wages of almost ten million people, but in the battle against this virus that’s what was required and the government stepped up to the plate to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods.
We did promise to build new hospitals, but we didn’t know we would be building seven new Nightingale hospitals around the country within six months of the general election. Battling this virus has required huge efforts across the whole of government, as well as the country, but that doesn’t mean our manifesto commitments have been put on pause.
You may recall we said we’d get Brexit done, and we did, breaking the deadlock in parliament and passing our withdrawal agreement which meant that we left the EU on January 31 this year.
We said we’d introduce a fairer, points-based immigration system, where people are judged on their skills and what they can offer rather than where they are from. This month we passed our Immigration Bill through parliament to do exactly that.
We promised we’d recruit an extra 20,000 police officers to keep our streets and communities safe, and one year on we’ve already recruited an additional 5,824 officers.
We pledged to recruit an additional 50,000 nurses so our NHS can continue to provide first-rate care for all who need it, and there are now 13,700 more nurses as well as 7,800 more doctors.
Speaking of our NHS, this year has demonstrated more than ever why protecting it and increasing its funding was top of our manifesto commitments. On March 16 we passed our NHS Funding Act, enshrining into law the biggest cash boost yet for the NHS, an additional £33.9 billion in frontline NHS services every year by 2023-24, the largest funding settlement in the history of the NHS. On top of this we’ve invested an additional £9 billion into our NHS and health services this year to help it to deal with the coronavirus.
We also said we’d increase schools funding to a minimum of £5,000 per secondary school pupil, and from this academic year it’s in place, helping to ensure our children can get the best start in life.
There is much, much more to do and further to go before we can say we have repaid the faith shown in us by so many voters, many for the first time. But even amid fighting this virus, commitments haven’t been forgotten and progress has been made, and tomorrow we can expect to see the chancellor reaffirm our financial commitments to meeting our pledges on the police, nurses and schools.
There is no denying this has been a tough year like no other, but we remain determined to repay the faith you put in us, honour our promises and build back stronger than ever across all corners of our country.
This article first appeared in The Times on 24 November 2020.
Commenting, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said:
“Corbyn’s Pension Tax will see ten million savers facing a huge bill forcing them to delay their retirement for almost three and a half years.
“This is just one of the ways a Corbyn government would hammer hardworking people on top of his plans to hike up taxes by £2,400 a year, as well as the cost of his plan for unlimited immigration and the chaos of 2020 being dominated by two more referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party can get Brexit done with a deal, get parliament working again and turbocharge our economy to unleash Britain’s potential.”