British Prime Minister Boris Johnson rallied his Conservative Party loyalists on Wednesday, vowing a far-reaching change to shun the UK economy from cheap foreign labor after Brexit.
Dispelling panic-shopping at petrol stations, bare supermarket shelves and retailers’ warnings of a bleak Christmas to come, the Tory leader says the short-term pain is worth it.
“We are dealing with the biggest underlying issues of our economy and society,” he is expected to say in the concluding remarks of the conference, according to excerpts released by the party.
“Problems that no government had the guts to deal with before.
“Because we are now beginning a change of direction that is long overdue in the UK economy,” Johnson would say, vowing no return to the pre-Brexit model of “uncontrolled immigration”.
Instead, British businesses must invest in their workers and technology to push the country towards a “high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy”.
But the transition will take time, and in the meantime, the government has agreed to a limited number of short-term visas to lure truckers and poultry workers from Eastern Europe.
The government blames the acute labor shortage affecting the UK economy not on its harsh approach to Brexit but on the coronavirus pandemic.
But the supply crisis risks undermining topics that Johnson is set to emphasize in his conference speech, including economic growth after the EU divorce and “flattening” a “global Britain”.
He is also expected to speak to Britain’s action on climate change and the need for global coordination, ahead of the two-week COP26 climate summit in Scotland from 31 October.
On Tuesday at the convention Touring Exhibitors Stand, Johnson rode an e-bike, climbed an electric tractor, and played with a puzzle to assemble a zero-carbon energy home.
But in the Tory gathering as a whole, the topic of climate change has been shelved.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak on Monday said it would be “immoral” to give pandemic-induced loans to future generations, but made no mention of saving those generations from a burning planet.
The omission before COP26 in Glasgow was a “damaging sign”, commented Rebecca Newsom, head of policy for Greenpeace UK.
“Spending more cash now for green infrastructure will save huge costs later and create millions of new jobs across the UK,” he said.
Nor did Foreign Secretary Liz Truss reference the C-word – climate – in her speech on Sunday, while vowing to support “green” development and “clean infrastructure” in developing countries.
In contrast, the B-word – Brexit – has been a recurrent theme for representatives of Johnson’s party, adamant that the current problems associated with the EU split will end.
Brexit Minister David Frost denounced the “anti-growth ideology” and “persistent plight” of the “anti-transport, anti-car” lobby.
Interior Minister Priti Patel used her conference speech on Tuesday to promise tough action against climate protesters who are blocking roads around London.
The prime minister mocked the protesters as “irresponsible crusty”.
But the president of Johnson’s COP26, Alok Sharma, denied that the party was easing climate change less than a month before welcoming delegates from around the world to Glasgow.
“Sometimes people don’t see the Conservatives as the leaders on this,” the former trade minister told a small audience on the margins of the main conference in Manchester.
“Cabinet colleagues really understand why it is important to get this right,” Sharma insisted.
“This is a real, real opportunity to create jobs, grow, build a healthy country, a healthy planet.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)