“High wages, high skills, high productivity” was the promise made this Wednesday (6) by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to his party, the Conservative Party, in advocating a major reform that, after Brexit, frees the British economy of its dependence on cheap foreign labor.
Faced with long lines at gas stations, empty supermarket shelves, and warnings from merchants that a dismal end of year is approaching due to a severe shortage of labor, Johnson argued that all of this is a short-term pain. , transient and worth it.
“The answer to current tensions, which are basically a consequence of economic reactivation, is not to pull the same old lever of runaway immigration,” said Boris, in his closing speech at his party’s congress held in Manchester, in the deindustrialized northeast of England, who traditionally vote for the left.
The UK must abandon an “old broken system” based on “low wages, low growth, low skills and low productivity, all possible and facilitated by uncontrolled immigration”, he insisted, to great applause.
Instead, he advocated investing to close the huge inequalities between the wealthy city of London and the rest of the country, prioritizing infrastructure, housing, education and business development that would make it possible to pay better wages to well-trained British workers across the country.
“Our mission as conservatives is to promote opportunity,” he launched, advocating a reform that “no government has had the courage to tackle” until now.
“Yes, it will take time and sometimes it will be difficult, but that was the change people voted for in 2016,” he insisted.
The date refers to the referendum that opted for Brexit, with 52% of the votes, and which, after years of political chaos, led the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, definitively, on January 1st of this year.
– Lots of humor and few measures –
Packed with his traditional debauched sense of humour, the prime minister’s speech presented more charisma than concrete measures, summing up to bonuses of up to £3,000 ($4,000) for recruiting teachers and imprecise promises of gigantic public investments.
“It was a fun speech” and “we need an injection of that energy,” 50-year-old marketing expert Jacqueline Hampson, who attended her first congress after joining the party last year, told AFP.
“Without a doubt, we have to keep our finances under control and keep the confidence of the financial markets,” said Charles Boote, 82, of likely tax increases.
As for workers’ representatives close to the opposition Labor Party, attacked and ridiculed by Johnson in his speech, his message represented only “the words of a political jester”.
It launched “slogans over hard details, at a time when costs are rising, inflation is a real concern, subsidies have been reduced for millions of people, there is widespread food and fuel shortages and a very real climate crisis” , analyzed the secretary general of the powerful transport union TSSA, Manuel Cortés.
– What about climate change? –
A few weeks away from hosting the COP26 climate summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow, Johnson tackled climate change tangentially.
“The determination of the world will be put to the test. Can we keep Paris’ ambition alive to prevent the planet from warming by more than 1.5°C? The government cannot act alone, and taxpayers cannot do this alone,” he said.
He called for private sector participation, citing, as an example, the offshore wind turbine fields off the British coast.
With his usual aplomb, the day before the prime minister had pedaled an electric bicycle, climbed onto an electric tractor and played with a jigsaw puzzle to assemble a carbon neutral house on the booths of exhibitors at the conference.
On the whole, however, in Congress, unlike Brexit, climate change was pushed into the background – a “harmful sign” in the opinion of Rebecca Newsom, Policy Officer at Greenpeace UK.
Johnson even attacked, on Wednesday, those who have been protesting around London for weeks against the government’s lack of action in favor of the climate, and who resort to civil disobedience.
“These people who cling to the roads, I don’t call them legitimate protesters, but a nuisance that blocks ambulances and prevents people from living their daily lives,” he criticized, praising that his interior minister promotes “new powers to put them in prison, where they should be”.
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