Boris Johnson’s conference address was condemned as “bombastic but vacuous and economically illiterate” by the free market Adam Smith Institute, while the Conservative thinktank Bright Blue issued a stark warning.
“The public will soon tire of Boris’s banter if the government does not get a grip of mounting crises: price rises, tax rises, fuel shortages, labour shortages. There was nothing new in this speech, no inspiring new vision or policy,” its chief executive, Ryan Shorthouse, said.
He failed to mention:
- Supply shortages
- Petrol queues
- £20-a-week reduction in universal credit that came into force on Wednesday for more than 5 million families –the biggest overnight cut in benefits ever.
Instead, the prime minister set out an optimistic vision of a high-wage, high-skilled economy, promising to “unleash” the “unique spirit” of the British people.
Johnson’s speech was robustly attacked by business groups, trade unions and thinktanks across the political spectrum as failing to tackle the economic challenges facing the UK.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, called the speech “the most out of touch display by a prime minister in decades” and said the conference “may as well be happening in a parallel universe”.
But some business groups have been dismayed by the government appearing to blame companies for what Johnson called the “broken model” of low wages and low investment.
The Boris Johnson has in the past been notoriously dismissive of the concerns of business groups, reportedly saying during the fraught Brexit negotiations in 2018: “Fuck business.”