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READ IN FULL: Boris Johnson's speech to the 2019 Conservative Party conference

PoliticsHome staff

20 min read

Read Prime Minister Boris Johnson's full speech to delegates at the 2019 Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

It’s great to be here in Manchester at the best attended conference for years

and I know that some of you may have been mildly peppered with abuse on the way in

but are you abashed? are you downcast?

Of course not. We are conservatives and we get on with serving the people

and speaking of service I should begin by paying tribute to my predecessor

Theresa, I know the whole of conference remains full of gratitude to you, and to Philip May, for your patience and your forbearance, and yes, we will continue with the work of tackling domestic violence and modern slavery

and building on your legacy

I have been prime minister for only seventy days but

 I have seen so many things that give cause for hope

hospitals that are finally getting the investment to match the devotion of the staff

schools where standards of reading are rising through the use of synthetic phonics

police colleges where idealistic young men and women are enrolling in large numbers to fight crime across the country

shipyards in Scotland that are building superb modern type 26 frigates for sale around the world –

and every one of those high wage high skill jobs in shipbuilding is a testament to the benefits of belonging to the United Kingdom

 the most successful political partnership in history

which we will protect

and we will defend against those who would wantonly destroy it

and I say to Ruth Davidson as well

 thank you for everything you did for the cause of Conservatism and unionism in Scotland

 and Ruth, we will honour your legacy too

 and I am proud of the role this government is playing in every one of those investments

 and they are only possible because

It was this Conservative government that tackled the debt and the deficit left by the last Labour government

It was because we cleared up the wreckage they left behind that we now have

record employment

wages rising the fastest for 10 years

and we have record Foreign Direct Investment of £1.3 trillion

and so many reasons to be confident about our country and its direction

and yet we are like a world class athlete with a pebble in our shoe

there is one part of the British system that seems to be on the blink

If parliament were a laptop, then the screen would be showing the pizza wheel of doom

If parliament were a school, Ofsted would be shutting it down

if parliament were a reality TV show the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle by now

But at least we could have watched the speaker being forced to eat a kangaroo testicle

And the sad truth is that voters have more say over I’m a celebrity than they do over this House of Commons

Which refuses to deliver Brexit, refuses to do anything constructive and refuses to have an election

just at the moment when voters are desperate for us to focus on their priorities

we are continuing to chew the supermasticated subject of Brexit

when what people want

what leavers want

what remainers want

what the whole world wants – is to be calmly and sensibly done with the subject, and to move on

and that is why we are coming out of the EU on October 31, come what may Conference

let’s get Brexit done

we can we must and we will

even though things have not been made easier by the surrender bill

 we will work for a deal with our EU friends; but whatever happens we must come out by the end of October

let’s get this thing done – and then let’s get ready to make our case to the country

against the fratricidal anti-semitic Marxists who were in Brighton last week

last week Jeremy Corbyn had a number of damaging and retrograde ideas in his speech

he wants a 4 day week - which would slash the wages of people on low incomes

he wants to ban private schools and expropriate their property

Even though it would cost the taxpayer seven billion to educate the kids

he wants to stamp out excellence in schools by banning Ofsted

the inspectors who ensure that schools are safe for our children

but he had one good idea

-  he had a whole paragraph repeating what he has said every week for the last three years

he wants an election now – or that is what he was going to say, poor fellow

the only trouble is that the paragraph was censored by Tohn McDonnell or possibly Keir Starmer

so we have the astonishing spectacle of the leader of the opposition being prevented by his colleagues from engaging in his constitutional function which is to try to remove me from office

and in this age of creative litigation I am surprised that no one has yet sued him for breach of contract

though it now appears that the SNP may yet try to bundle him towards the throne

like some Konstantin Chernenko figure

Reluctantly propelled to office in a Kremlin coup

so that they get on with their programme for total national discord

turning the whole of 2020 – which should be a great year for this country – into the chaos and cacophony of two more referendums

- a second referendum on Scottish independence, even though the people of Scotland were promised that the 2014 vote would be a once in a generation decision

and a second referendum on the EU? Can you imagine?

another 3 years of this?

but that is the Corbyn agenda – stay in the EU beyond October 31,

and paying a billion pounds a month for the privilege, followed by years of uncertainty for business and everyone else

As for the Lib Dems, their idea of serving the national interest was to write to Jean-Claude Juncker urging him NOT to give this country a better deal

While the leader has called for a second referendum

While pledging to campaign against the result

It’s time to respect the trades descriptions act

And take the word democrat out of the liberal democrats

My friends

I am afraid that after three and a half years people are beginning to feel that they are being taken for fools

They are beginning to suspect that there are forces in this country that simply don’t want brexit delivered at all

and if they turn out to be right in that suspicion then I believe there will be grave consequences for trust in democracy

Let’s get Brexit done on October 31

Let’s get it done because of the opportunities that Brexit will bring

not just to take back control of our money and our borders and our laws

To regulate differently and better, and to take our place as a proud and independent global campaigner for free trade

Let’s get it done because delay is so pointless and expensive

Let’s get it done because we need to build our positive new partnership with the EU

because it cannot be stressed too much that this is not an anti-European party and it is not an anti-European country

We love Europe

We are European

but after 45 years of really dramatic constitutional change we must have a new relationship with the EU

a positive and confident partnership- and we can do it

Today in Brussels we are tabling what I believe are constructive and reasonable proposals

Which provide a compromise for both sides

We will under no circumstances have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland

We will respect the peace process and the Good Friday agreement

And by a process of renewable democratic consent by the executive and assembly of Northern ireland

we will go further and protect the existing regulatory arrangements for farmers and other businesses on both sides of the border

And at the same time we will allow the UK - whole and entire - to withdraw from the EU, with control of our own trade policy from the start.

And to protect the union

And yes this is a compromise by the UK

And I hope very much that our friends understand that and compromise in their turn

Because if we fail to get an agreement because of what is essentially a technical discussion of the exact nature of future customs checks

When that technology is improving the whole time

Then let us be in no doubt that the alternative is no deal

That is not an outcome we want

It is not an outcome we seek at all

But let me tell you this conference it is an outcome for which we are ready

Are we ready?

Are we determined to resolve this?

Let’s get Brexit done on October 31

because we must get on and deliver on all the priorities of the people

to answer the cry of those 17.4 m who voted for Brexit

because it is only by delivering Brexit that we can address that feeling in so many parts of the country

 that they were being left behind, ignored

and that their towns were not only suffering from a lack of love and investment

but their views had somehow become unfashionable or unmentionable

And let’s get Brexit done for those millions who may have voted remain

But are first and foremost democrats

And accept the result of the referendum

and when I say that I want us to work together, now, to bring this country together

you are entitled to ask yourselves about my core principles

and the ideals that drive me and are going to drive me as your prime minister

I am going to follow the example of my friend Saj

I am going to quote that supreme authority in my family - my mother

(and by the way for keen students of the divisions in my family you might know that I have kept the ace up my sleeve - my mother voted leave)

and my mother taught me to believe strongly in the equal importance, the equal dignity, the equal worth of every human being on the planet

and that may sound banal but it is not

and there is one institution that sums up that idea

The NHS is holy to the people of this country because of the simple beauty of its principle

that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from

but when you are sick the whole country figuratively gathers at your bedside

and does everything it can to make you well again

and everybody pays to ensure that you have the best doctors and the best nurses and the most effective treatments known to medical science

and after 70 years the results are – on the whole –amazing

when I was a kid the word cancer was a death knell

and heart attack was a terrifying thought

well, we are slowly defeating the legions of disease

This country has seen the fastest falls in breast cancer in Europe

but we have so much more to do

on Monday I went to the north Manchester general hospital

and I saw the incredible work they are doing with reconstructive maxillo-facial surgery

on people who only a decade ago would have been permanently disfigured by their traumas

and for whom hope and confidence is so important

I talked to the patients and every one of them was bursting with praise for the staff and their energy and devotion

but conference that fantastic hospital was built in 1876

To serve the workhouse

and we were walking down long narrow nightingale wards that were designed by the pioneer of nursing

and as one of the managers told me

that asking those professionals to work in that environment

is like asking a premiership footballer to play on a ploughed field

and so I was proud to tell them under this government we will totally rebuild that hospital

So that we are not only recruiting more doctors and nurses, and training them

but in the next 10 years we will build 40 new hospitals

in the biggest investment in hospital infrastructure for a generation

because after 70 years of the existence of the NHS

- 44 of them under a Conservative government

it is time for us to say loud and clear

We are the party of the NHS

 and I claim that title because it is our one nation conservatism

that has delivered and will deliver the economic growth

that makes those investments possible

and it is we Conservatives who will solve the problem of social care

and end the injustice that means people have to sell their home

to pay for their old age

and if you ask me how we are going to do it

how we are going to grow the UK economy

I will tell you that it is by raising the productivity of the whole of the UK

not with socialism

not with deranged and ruinous plans borrowed from the playbook of Bolivarian revolutionary Venezuela

but by creating the economic platform for dynamic free market


yes, you heard it right

capitalism – and when did you last hear a Tory leader talk about capitalism

we are the party of the NHS precisely because we are the party of capitalism

not because we shun it, or despise it

and we understand the vital symmetry at the heart of the modern British economy

between a dynamic enterprise culture and great public services

and I have seen this formula in action

now who comes from London?

who lives there?

no disgrace in that – I used to be mayor there

and it is one of the many astonishing things about our nation’s capital that it is the most productive region in the whole of Europe

because in 1863 this country led the world in putting trains in tunnels, among other breakthroughs

and yet there are many other regions of the country that are far less productive

and that represents not just an injustice

but a massive opportunity

I believe that talent and genius and initiative and chutzpah are evenly distributed across the whole UK

but it is also clear that opportunity is not evenly distributed

and it is the job of this one nation conservative govt

- to unlock talent in every corner of the UK

 because that is the right thing to do in itself

and because that is the way to release the economic potential of the whole country

and the first thing we must do in spreading opportunity is to insist on the equal safety of the public wherever you live

 to make your streets safer

and that is why we are recruiting 20,000 new police officers

 and that is why we are committing now to rolling up the evil county lines drugs gangs

 that predate on young kids and send them to die in

the streets to feed the cocaine habits of the bourgeoisie

 and we will succeed

and yes we will be tough on crime

we will make sure that the police have the legal powers and the political backing to use stop and search

 because it may be controversial

but believe me that when a young man is going equipped with a bladed weapon

there is nothing kinder or more loving or more life-saving you can do than ask him to turn out his pockets

and yes, when people are found guilty of serious sexual or violent offences,

we will make sure that they serve the sentence they should – if only for the protection of the public

 but we will also do everything we can to stop people becoming criminals

 with rehabilitation

 education in prisons

so that they are not just academies for crime

 and we are investing in youth clubs and better FE training

to give young people the best possible antidote to the criminal instinct

the prospect of a good job

and indeed the best way to level up and to expand opportunity

is to give every kid in the country a superb education

so that is why we are levelling up education funding across the country

So that every child has the chance to express their talents

 and that’s why we are investing in transport

from northern powerhouse rail

to a huge new agenda of road improvements

And yes I admit I am a bit of a bus nut

I confess that I like to make and paint inexact models of buses

With happy passengers inside

But it is not just because i am a bus nut that we want

to expand bus transport

With clean, green buses and contactless payment by card or phone

a good bus service can make all the difference to your job

To your life

To your ability to get to the doctor

To the liveability of your town or your village

And to your ability to stay there and have a family there and start a business there

And it is for exactly the same reason

To increase connectivity and liveability

that we are putting in gigabit broadband

spreading across the country like tendrils of superinformative vermicelli

because that is the way to unite the country

to spread opportunity

to bring the country together

and there is another vital effect

with the right infrastructure and education and technology

you increase the productivity of the whole UK economy

if the streets are safe, and if the transport links are there, and if there are good broadband connections

you enable new housing to go ahead

on brownfield sites that were never considered viable before

we enable young people to get a foot on the housing ladder

and we enable people to live near the good jobs

and above all – with safe streets and affordable housing and fantastic wifi - we give business the confidence to invest and to grow

that is the virtuous circle

that is the balance and the symmetry at the heart of our one nation project

and there are so many ways in which we are pulling ahead

London has overtaken New York as the number one city for investment in fintech firms

and that is before we have even delivered Crossrail

which was on time and on budget when I left

And isn’t it time we had a Mayor who is focused on the job - which is why i am backing Shaun Bailey

here in Manchester we are seeing an extraordinary growth in genomics, with

a flood of inward investment from banking and insurance to IT

and that is before we have delivered northern powerhouse rail

in the west midlands we are seeing a 21st century industrial revolution in battery technology

one in five of the electric cars sold in Europe is now made in the UK

and that is before we have begun Andy Street’s vision of a West Midlands metro

With infrastructure education and technology we will drive up the productivity of this country and bring it together

I do not for one moment doubt the patriotism of people on all sides of this Brexit argument but I am fed up with being told that our country can’t do something

when I believe passionately that it can

thanks to British technology there is a place in Oxfordshire that could soon be the hottest place in the solar system

 the tokamak fusion reactor in Culham

and if you go there you will learn that this country has a global lead in fusion research

and that they are on the verge of creating commercially viable miniature fusion reactors for sale around the world

delivering virtually unlimited zero-carbon power

 now I know they have been on the verge for some time

 it is a pretty spacious kind of verge

 but remember it was only a few years ago when people were saying that solar power would never work in cloudy old Britain

and that wind turbines would not pull the skin off a rice puddin

 well there are some days when wind and solar are delivering more than half our energy needs

we can do it

we can beat the sceptics

we are already using gene therapy to cure blindness

-  this country leads the way in satellite technology

and we are building two space ports, one in Sutherland and one in Newquay

soon we will be sending missions to the heavens geostationary satellites

conference can you think of anyone who could trial the next mission

can you think which communist cosmonaut to coax into the cockpit?

and let’s get Brexit done on October 31

not just because we have such an immense agenda to take this country forward

but because Brexit is an opportunity in itself

We will take back control of our fisheries and the extraordinary marine wealth of Scotland

and it is one of the many bizarre features of the SNP that in spite of being called names like Salmond and Sturgeon they are committed to handing back those fish to the control of the EU

we want to turbo-charge the Scottish fishing sector; they would allow Brussels to charge for our turbot

we will be able to allow UK businesses to have bigger tax breaks for investment in capital

we can do free ports and enterprize zones

we can ban the shipment of live animals

and yes, we will have those free trade deals

we already have some astonishing exports

 just in the last few months I have seen an Isle of Wight ship-builder that exports vast leisure catamarans to Mexico

we export Jason Donovan CDs to North Korea

 we exported Nigel Farage to America – though he seems to have come back

and across the world there are countries that are yearning to engage with us

where we have old friendships and burgeoning new partnerships

and that is the vision for Britain

a country that is open, outward-looking, global in mindset and insisting on free trade

a high wage, low tax, high skill, high productivity economy – with incomes rising fastest for those who are lowest paid

a country where we level up and unify the entire United Kingdom through better education, better infrastructure and technology

a country where provided you obey the law and do no harm to others you can live your life and love whomsoever you choose

a country that leads the world with clean green technology and in reducing greenhouse gases that cause climate change

a country that is happy and confident about its future

that is the vision for the country we love

and when the opposition finally screw their courage to the sticking point and agree to have an election

when the chlorinated chickens waddle from the hencoop where they are hiding

that is the vision of the country that we will put to the people

-      and the choice is clear

We put up wages - with the biggest expansion of the living wage for a generation; Corbyn would put up taxes for everyone

We back our superb armed forces around the world; Corbyn has said he wants them disbanded

We want an Australian-style points based system for immigration; Corbyn says he doesn’t even believe in immigration controls

If Jeremy Corbyn were allowed into Downing Street, he would whack up your taxes, he would foul up the economy, he would rip up the alliance between Britain and the USA, and he would break up the UK

We cannot allow it to happen

but it is worse than that

It has become absolutely clear that he is determined now to frustrate Brexit

What do we want and need? Do we want more dither and delay

Do we want to spend another billion pounds a month that could be going on the NHS?

Let’s get Brexit done

and let’s finally believe in ourselves and what we can do

This country has long been a pioneer

we inaugurated the steam age, the atomic age, the age of the genome

we led the way in parliamentary democracy, in female emancipation

and when the whole world had succumbed to a different fashion, this country and this party pioneered ideas of free markets and privatisation that spread across the planet

Every one of them was controversial, every one of them was difficult

but we have always had the courage to be original, to do things differently, and now we are about to take another giant step

to do something no one thought we could do

to reboot our politics

to relaunch ourselves into the world

and to dedicate ourselves again to that simple proposition that we are here to serve the democratic will of the British people

and if we do that with optimism and confidence then I tell you we will not go wrong

Let’s get on with sensible moderate one nation but tax-cutting Tory government

and figuratively if not literally let us send Jeremy Corbyn into orbit where he belongs

Let’s get Brexit done

Let’s bring our country together

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