November 18, 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's CBI Conference speech

Speaking today at the CBI Conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“I am honoured to be here this morning because I know how much you have all achieved

and I know how difficult it is

because when I first left university it was my first ambition to be a manufacturer, an exporter, an industrialist

and I saw what I thought was a market opportunity in kitchen tiles – beautiful hand-made kitchen tiles with designs in bas relief

of fruit of the kind that you might put behind a sink or a stove,

I think called splashback kitchen tiles

and together with a couple of friends we found a place to make them

and we got some lovely designs of cherries and bananas

and we even found a special government adviser who was apparently an expert in setting up tile making businesses

and we gave him as much money as we could find and he wrote some splendid advice

basically informing us that the venture was doomed

and we never really recovered our morale and went on to do other things.

But I am lost in admiration as a result of that experience for all those who have made a fantastic success of their businesses and their industries.

Business today, industry today is doing extraordinary things in this country,

dominating in the 21st century sectors

from batteries to bioscience

with record investments, record exports,

tea to India, you know the story,

tea to India

cake to France, TV aerials to Korea, boomerangs to Australia

we export music around the world,

we export Jason Donovan to North Korea – and under this government we have an economy that has grown for nine years,

it's 20% bigger than it was in 2010.

Last week it was announced that the rate of unemployment has fallen to the lowest levels since 1974.

And yet there is something frustrating about this recitation of triumphs


it is only half the story of an economy that is still not achieving what it could,

like a formula one supercar, a green, super-green, supercar, of a kind in which this country of course excels – that is running on only half its cylinders

with so much more natural energy

waiting to be unleashed

and the country is being held back, let's be clear, by politics,

and by a parliament that for the last three and a half years has simply failed

to discharge its basic promise

made umpteen times to honour the mandate of the people and to deliver brexit,

and that is why we need this election now.

I don't want an election in December,

under normal circumstances nobody does,

but we have no choice.

We must get brexit done.

We have to clear this parliamentary blockage in this dynorod election

because we are, first of all, we are democrats.

There are millions who want to get brexit done because they voted leave,

they believe that the EU has evolved very substantially away from what people voted for in 1975,

and then there are huge numbers who may have voted remain – and I include distinguished luminaries of the CBI amongst them –

but who just want to respect the result of the referendum,

and after three a half years they think, we think, I think it is time for the paralysis to end,

and we have to get brexit done because it is the best thing for our national mood, and the best thing to take our country forward,

and by the way, it is the best thing for the economy because

the worst thing now is the continuing economic uncertainty,

people waiting to take on new staff or invest in new property or just to invest in this country.

The UK already attracts phenomenal inward investment, £92 billion last year, more than any other country in Europe.

But there is now a pent-up tidal wave of investment that could come to this country from people who see all our natural advantages.

Great time zone, fantastic skills, the right language, greatest universities on Earth,

and I know you'll have to forgive me for making political points in this speech, normally I wouldn't be quite so political in the sanctity of the CBI speech, but this is an election campaign

so I will make no bones about it.

One of the advantages of voting Conservative in this election is that we can and will get it done,

and get it done in a matter of weeks.

We have a deal that is ready to go,

just add hot water, stir in pot, it's there.

The sceptics said it couldn’t be done, and they were wrong.

They said we'd never get a great new deal of the kind that we have got.

This deal allows us to maximise all the opportunities of Brexit,

from free ports to free trade deals,

from cutting VAT on tampons to banning the cruel export of live animals.

We can do exactly what we promised,

take back control of our money, our borders and our laws

and we can take back control of our immigration system and decide democratically who gets here

in the interests of the UK economy and with every sector of UK industry and manufacturing.

And, of course, what this deal does is it gives, which I think is what everybody wanted, in particular certainly what I was trying to achieve, is it gives business complete stability and

certainty about the arrangements that we have with our friends and partners in the EU as we make the transition in January.

And the best thing is that it is done,

it’s the blue peter deal – here’s one I made earlier – and it has the explicit support of all 635 Conservative candidates standing at this election, every one.

I hope the implications of that are clear to you from what I hope will happen in Parliament in just a few weeks.

All we need is 9 more seats and we can deliver Brexit in January.

If we get a working majority we can get parliament working for you

and we can unleash the potential of the whole country

and get on with our one nation Conservative agenda.

And I don’t want to cast aspersions on your next guest but there is only one alternative to that one nation Conservative government that gets Brexit done,

and that is a Corbyn-Sturgeon coalition.

What would he do if the Corbyn-Sturgeon coalition were actually to form a government in this country?The only hard fact that has swum like flotsam from the Bermuda triangle of Labour’s Brexit policy is that they want more delay,

more delay, turning 2020 into the year of two referendums,

one on Scotland – which Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly confirmed is the price she will exact for her support – but we don’t know what Corbyn's position is on a referendum on the union with Scotland.

Does he want to protect that union, or would he join Sturgeon in trying to break up the most successful political partnership of the last 300 years?

Who knows? Perhaps you could ask him.

And as for his position on the EU, it is positively mind-boggling.

He wants to negotiate a new deal – spend at least another three months, another three month extension negotiating a new deal,

and then he wants to spend six further months

asking the public to vote on his deal in yet another toxic referendum campaign.

And we don’t even know what his own position will be.

Will he campaign against his own deal?

Will he actually try to destroy his own contraption like Alec Guinness blowing up the bridge he built on the River Kwai?

Or will he urge Labour colleagues to vote against his incomprehensible text,

like the dying Virgil urging his friends to burn the Aeneid?

It's a mystery.

Is he for leave? Is for remain?

Nobody knows.

One thing is clear: the Sturgeon-Corbyn alliance would consign this country

to months if not years of dither, delay, discord and division

And with every month of pointless delay – insisted on by Corbyn – it's costing this country an extra billion pounds a month.

We need to get Brexit done to end the uncertainty,

and so that we one nation Conservatives can get on with our programme of uniting and levelling up across the whole UK,

because if the potential is enormous then so is the injustice.

Some regions that are now 50 per cent less productive than London.

I was proud to be mayor of this city for eight years, it's the most productive region in the whole of Europe by some measurements.

There are some parts of the country where people's lives are a decade shorter than elsewhere.

Where educational outcomes are vastly different.

Now imagine if we could change that.

Imagine if every child had the same start and the same encouragement at the beginning of their lives.

Think of all that untapped talent in this country.

I absolutely, passionately believe that around this amazing country talent, genius, flair, are evenly distributed,

but opportunity is unevenly distributed.

And yet the answers are within our grasp.

Our ambition is to unlock the whole nation’s potential through three things:

better infrastructure, better education and technology.

Not just to close the opportunity gap between rich and poor but also between the regions of this country.

By analogy, you may remember what happened in London over the eight years in which we were running it, we invested massively in transport infrastructue.

There was a fantastic London challenge education programme. Regions of the city, areas of the city that had been left behind were able to participate in the growth and prosperity of the whole city.

You saw a contraction in the gap between rich and poor.

You saw an increase in life expectancy in the poorest groups,

and you saw a huge increase in their incomes as they were able to use mass-transit to get to the opportunity areas.

That's what we did in London, and that is what we want to do, loosely speaking, throughout the country.

We think we can close both those gaps at once,

not by decapitating the tall poppies

but by spreading equality of opportunity,

giving everybody the same freedoms.

The first and most important thing is everybody should be able to walk the streets free from the fear of crime.

We need to stop our kids getting sucked into county lines drugs gangs.

We need safer streets and proper punishments for serious offences,

and that means a government that not only funds the police as we are but that backs the police.

That’s why we are not just investing in 20,000 more police but also backing them up with proper powers to do stop and search and tougher sentences for serious sexual and violent crimes.

And what's the best way to stop our young people from getting caught up in crime?  

It's to give every child in this country the confidence that comes from an excellent education.

So we are boosting per pupil funding so that each pupil gets a minimum of £4000 in primary and £5000 in secondary schools.

We're putting huge amounts into special educational needs.

£2 billion more into rebuilding our Further Education colleges,

investing in skills for our country,

because it's not just about universities, fantastic though they are: we must build the skills of our young people.

And as we do that we must also ensure that they are able to exploit the opportunities that are being created, literally to find the work that this country produces, conveniently and affordably.

That is the secret, and that means superb transport communications.

That's why this government is embarking on an infrastructure revolution,

because now is the time to make those investments with interest rates at a historic low,

not borrowing for day-to-day spending, but obviously looking at what we can do to fund long-term investment.

I think you would agree that that is the right way for our economy.

And yes, of course, that means supporting some really fantastic major projects.

Crossrail I was proud to help deliver when I was mayor, the tube upgrades, many other projects.

But we now want to go on with Northern Powerhouse Rail, the West Midlands Metro system, and many other things.

Big ticket items we will do.

But it also means investing in the simple improvements that so many people and businesses have been craving in transportation.

Modernising roads and junctions that have become bottlenecks and sources of massive local frustration and economic inefficiency. Putting in better bus services – which can make all the difference to towns and villages and rural communities.

Better cycleways across the country. I love cycleways. They are particularly successful in London, despite what the taxi drivers will tell you. They are wonderful things. We need better cycleways.

And we want every home, every business in the country to have the confidence and convenience that comes with gigabit broadband, and 5G, 6G mobile telephony.

Now you do all those things and what you achieve is uniting the country, raising productivity, education, infrastructure, technology, and you create the platform for growth.

And if you create that platform for growth, as a one nation Conservative government, the market will respond in two vital ways: if you have good transport, and a safe environment, and good schools then suddenly, as we found in London, the market will find that it can build thousands more homes – superb and affordable homes – on brownfield sites,

giving young people the chance to have the keys to their own property which every survey continues to show is one of our most fundamental instincts.

And we will help with a expansion of part-buy, part-rent schemes to get people onto the housing ladder.

Second, if you have safe neighbourhoods and decent housing and a skilled workforce, and good transport links
then what happens?

You get business investment.

You get confidence coming back into the areas that have felt left behind, and who spoke in that 2016 vote to leave the EU.

You get jobs.

And that is why you get regeneration. And that is why i think this country need a government that believes in business and understands the vital important of wealth creation.

The need to support businesses large and small, family business, cutting business rates.

There have been 1.3 m businesses created since 2010 in this country.

Napoleon said we were a nation of shopkeepers, and he was right. There have been more businesses created in this country since 2010 than by France and Germany combined.

And that is the balance and symmetry at the heart of what we are proposing with one nation conservatism.

That is what we want to do.

It's a balance between fantastic public services and a strong dynamic market economy.

When people get up at the crack of dawn to get their business ready.

When people take out a mortgage for a new venture.

When people have the guts to put a new product on the market

we don’t sneer at them, we cheer for them.

And to make sure that the businesses of this country can continue to flourish I am announcing today a package of measures cutting business rates further. We will have a big review of business rates.

Cutting rates further, particularly for SMEs to help, above all, to stimulate the high street.

We will cut national insurance contributions to make it easier to hire and to put more cash into the pockets of the low paid.

We will increase the reliefs for new buildings that businesses need.

And this government will double, in order to help businesses innovate, this government will double funding for research and development to £18bn in the next parliament – the biggest ever increase in support for R and D.

And we proudly back businesses across this country

because we understand that it is they, you, who are creating the wealth that actually pays for the NHS.

And by the way because the NHS is the nation’s priority, and because we believe emphatically in fiscal prudence

I hope you will understand if I also announce today that we are postponing further cuts in corporation tax.

And before you storm the stage and protest let me remind you that this saves £6bn that we can put into the priorities of the British people including the NHS.

We have already cut it from 28 to 19 per cent, the lowest of any major economy, and that the alternative is Corbyn – who would whack it straight back up to the highest levels in Europe.

And that is the key difference between this government and the Labour party under Corbyn.

It is not just that Labour would be an economic disaster for this country because they would delay brexit yet again.

They would simultaneously wreck this economy with a £1.2 trillion spending splurge that would be instantly rejected by the markets that would massively increase not just this country’s debt but the cost of our debt, jeopardising the government’s balance sheet and ability to make future investments.

And to pay for it they would put up taxes on every household in the country to tune of £2400 a year.

In fact they are themselves so worried about a run on the pound that John McDonnell is actually going to impose exchange controls.

I invite you to imagine  the only countries that have exchange controls these days are places like Angola, Zimbabwe or you guessed it – Venezuela.

We cannot let it happen.

But that is the choice at this election.

You can come with us, and have a government that backs our armed forces as a power for good around the world

or you can have Jeremy Corbyn who has said he wants to scrap them.

You can come with us and support the police in fighting knife crime,

or go with Corbyn who say that stop and search is inappropriate and oppressive.

We want higher wages and higher skills.

Corbynomics means higher taxes for everyone

We know that the only way we can have the investments in the NHS and fantastic public services is if we also have a strong and dynamic market economy.

The policy of John McDonnell is literally to ferment the overthrow of capitalism.

The choice is very simple,

we can go with a government and a one nation Conservative party who want to unleash the talents and potential of this whole country, and get Brexit done,

get on with our plans for investment in 40 new hospitals,

20 hospital upgrades,

20,000 more police,

levelling up funding of education.

Get on with that fantastic one nation programme, because we are able to get Brexit done.

The biggest increase in the living wage in living memory.

Because we are able to get Brexit done.

Or we could consign this country to another year of dither and drift, adding two referendums in 2020.

I think we should give that madness a miss.

I think I want next year to be a year of productivity and growth.

Not a year of two referendums.

I don't want us all to wake up on Friday 13th with a nightmare in Downing St in the form of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

What I want is to take this country forward with sensible, moderate, dynamic, one nation but tax-cutting conservative policies.

That is what I am advocating at this election,

uniting and levelling up across the entire country

I believe this is good for business, good for our country and I hope you'll support it.”

Region Labour's Pension Tax (£) Extra Months to Work
England 11,167 44
East Midlands 6,150 50
Greater London 12,871 45
North East 9,758 38
North West 6,835 47
South East 14,270 40
South West 7,407 45
West Midlands 10,729 41
Northern Ireland 13,718 35
Scotland 10,653 41
Wales 11,691 36
United Kingdom 11,253 43

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.”

Read more about how this Pension Tax will impact millions of savers (PDF)