October 2, 2019
It’s great to be here in Manchester at the best attended conference for years, and I gather there was quite a lively mood last night in the hotel bars.
And I know that some of you may have been lightly mildly peppered with abuse on the way in. Were you? No? Good. But even if you were, are you abashed? are you downcast?
Of course not. We are conservatives and we get on with serving the people of this country.
And speaking of service I should begin by paying tribute to my predecessor, Theresa. Theresa May, 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 your 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 now 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 in Govan is a testament to the benefits of belonging to the United Kingdom.
The most successful political partnership in history - which we will protect and defend against those who would wantonly destroy it.
And I say to Ruth Davidson as well, thank you Ruth for everything you did and have done for the cause of Conservatism in Scotland and we will honour your legacy too.
And I am proud of the role this government is playing in every one of those investment and of course 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 – more than any other country in the EU.
"We have record employment wages rising the fastest for 10 years and we have record Foreign Direct Investment of £1.3 trillion – more than any other country in the EU."
We have so many reasons to be confident about our country and its direction and yet I feel sometimes more 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, I’m afraid, the pizza wheel of doom.
If parliament were a school, Ofsted would be shutting it down or putting it in special measures.
If parliament were a reality TV show the whole lot of us, I’m afraid, 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.
"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 pounds 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 John McDonnell or possibly Keir Starmer.
So we have the astonishing spectacle of the leader of the opposition gagged, 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 bungle him towards the throne like some Konstantin Chernenko figure – look it up - reluctantly propelled to office in a Kremlin coup so that they get on with their programme of 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?
" Let’s get ready to make our case to the country against the fratricidal anti-Semitic Marxists who were in Brighton last week."
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. When the leader of the Liberal Democrats has called for a second referendum, while pledging to campaign against the result, it’s time to respect the trades descriptions act, my friends, and take the word democrat out of the liberal democrats, I’m afraid.
After three and a half years people are beginning to feel that they are being taken for fools and 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 our democracy.
Let’s get Brexit done on October the 31st. 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 and debilitating. 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. This is not an anti-European country. We are European! We love Europe – I love Europe anyway. I love it!
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. And 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 over our own trade policy from the start.
And we will protect our precious union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
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, Conference, of what the alternative is. 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, my friends, this conference it is an outcome for which we are ready.
Are we ready for it? Yes we are!
Are we determined to resolve this? Yes we are!
Let’s get Brexit done by October the 31st. Because we have to get on and deliver on all the priorities of the people. To answer the cry of those 17.4 million 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’ve being left behind, ignored, and that their towns were not only suffering from a lack of love and investment but their views had become somehow unfashionable or unmentionable.
And let’s get Brexit done for those millions who may have voted Remain but are first and foremost democrats, and who accept the result of the referendum, who want to get on, and when I say that I want us to work together, now, to bring this country together, of course, you are entitled, this is the first time I’ve spoken to you as Party leader and Prime Minister at Conference, 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 Sajid Javid, who gave a brilliant speech, I am going to quote that supreme authority in my family - my mother.
And by the way I know there are keen students of the alleged divisions in my family of the EU, but I want you to know, Conference, that I have kept the ace up my sleeve - my mother voted leave!
It’s true, it’s true. My mother taught me one thing – well, she taught me many things - but she taught me to believe strongly in the equal importance, the equal dignity, and the equal worth of every human being on the planet. That may sound banal – that may sound banal, that may sound tripe - but it is not. You have to understand and believe in that.
And there is one institution in this country that sums up that idea.
"I have kept the ace up my sleeve - my mother voted leave!"
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.W
Well, we are slowly beating back 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 maxillo-facial reconstructive surgery on people who only a decade ago would have been probably permanently disfigured by their traumas. People for whom hope and confidence is so important. And I talked to the patients , every one of them , bursting with praise for the staff and their energy and care.
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: it’s asking professionals to work in that environment is like asking a premiership footballer to play on a ploughed field.
So I was proud to tell them under this government we will totally rebuild that hospital. And thanks to the work of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, 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, 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 too who will solve the problem of social care and end the injustice that means so many 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 are we going to pay for it all, 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 capitalism.
Yes, you heard it right – 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 dynamic enterprise culture and great public services. And I of course have seen this formula in action for a long time myself.
"We are the party of capitalism."
Now who comes from London? And who lives there? No disrespect to you– I used to be mayor there. It’s a fantastic place, a great honour, one of the greatest cities on earth.
And it is one of the many astonishing things about our nation’s capital, it is the most productive region in the whole of Europe, for lots of reasons. Because in 1863, amongst other things, we were the first place tot hink of putting trains in tunnels, and that kind of thing,
And yet there are many other regions of the country that are far less productive and that represents not just an injustice, though of course it does, but a massive opportunity.
I believe that talent and genius 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 government to unlock talent in every corner of the UK.
Because that is the right thing to do in itself, and because that is the right way to release the economic potential of the whole country.
And the first thing we’ve got to do, basic hygiene in spreading opportunity is to insist on the equal safety of the public wherever you live and that is why we are recruiting 20,000 new police officers, thank you Priti, and indeed thank you Saj, 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, it has to be done politely and with the accordance of the law.
"Yes, we will be tough on crime."
But believe me, when a young man, and I’m afraid it’s almost invariably 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 produce that weapon.
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, as One Nation Conservatives, do everything we can to stop people becoming criminals.
With rehabilitation, with education in prisons so that they are not just academies for crime, but also by investing in youth clubs and better FE training, further education funding, to give young people the best possible antidote to the criminal instinct, that is 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’s why we’re levelling up education funding across the country, the schools that have fallen furthest behind now seeing the biggest increases, so every child has the chance they deserve to express their talents.
"We're levelling up education funding across the country, the schools that have fallen furthest behind now seeing the biggest increases, so every child has the chance they deserve to express their talents."
And it’s so they can get the fantastic jobs that we are creating that we are improving in connectivity. Investing in transport, the fantastic prokect of Northern Powerhouse Rail that is now getting the go-ahead from Manchester to Leeds, just the first leg, and of coruse a huge new programme of rail and road improvements as well. And that includes the the M60, the M66 … what are the other ones Saj, you recited them so well the other day, the A358, the A303, the Lincoln roundabout … there are a huge range of things that we will be investing in now.
And furthermore, I admit, I am a bit of a bus nut, and I confess that I like to make and paint slightly inexact – very inexact – models of buses with happy passengers inside. I’m actually more interested in painting the passengers than the buses but nevermind.
It’s not just that I’m a bus nut that we want to expand bus transport. We want to make our buses cleaner, greener, zero-carbon and zero-emissions across the country with contactless payment by card or by phone, so that people want to use those services, we get the cars off of the road, we reduce congestion, we reduce pollution, and 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 indeed to your ability to stay there, have a family there, and have a business there.
And it’s for exactly that reason, to increase connectivity and liveability, that we are accelerating the programme for gigabit broadband. To be truthful, I’m not entirely sure of the exact technical details of gigabit broadband, but we’re bringing it forward by eight years and it will mean that everybody has not just superfast but incredibly fast speed-of-light broadband spreading in every home in the country like superinformative vermicelli.
Bringing people together, and giving people certainty that they can, as I say, start a business, and raise their family where they are. And that is the way, I think, with better connectivity, better transport, and better education to unite the country and bring it together.
But of course there is another vital effect of the right infrastructure and the right technology. You increase the productivity of the whole UK economy. If the streets are safe, if the transport links are there, if there are good broadband connections, what else do you allow to happen?
You allow new housing to go ahead. Huge numbers of new houses on brownfield sites that were never considered viable before. And that’s the way forward.
And you allow young people to get a foot on the housing ladder, and you allow young people to live near the good jobs, and above all, with safe seats and affordable housing and fantastic Wifi, we give businesses the confidence to invest and to grow.
"We give businesses the confidence to invest and grow."
And that is the virtuous circle, the balance and the symmetry at the heart of our One Nation project.
And there are so many ways in which our country is pulling ahead. London has overtaken New York to become the number one city for investment in FinTech firms. And that’s before we’ve even delivered CrossRail (which, by the way, was on-time and on-budget when the last Mayor left office).
Isn’t it time we had a Mayor who was focussed on the job of running London? And isn’t it time we got behind our fantastic candidate, Shaun Bailey, let’s Back Bailey for London in 2020.
And here in Manchester things are storming ahead. We are seeing an extraordinary growth in genomics, a flood of inward investment from banking and insurance to IT, and that’s before we’ve delivered Northern Powerhouse Rail, linking up the whole of the Northern region int eh way that we’re going to do.
In the West Midlands, we are already seeing a 21st century industrial revolution in battery and low-carbon technology, just as the West Midlands led the world in the previous industrial revolution, in the 19th century – absolutely true.
One in five of the electric cars sold in Europe is now made in this country. That’s a fantastic thing, and we’re going to increase it, we’re going to accelerate it, with a battery Gigafactory. And that is before we have even begun Andy Street’s brilliant vision of a West Midlands metro system. That’s the future. And it’s linking up the urban centres of the West Midlands in a way which needs to be done. And that’s what we’re going to do.
It’s always Conservatives who lead the way on great infrastructure projects. With infrastructure, education, and technology, we are going to drive up the productivity of this country and bring it together.
I don’t for one moment doubt the patriotism of people on all sides of this Brexit argument but I am fed up myself of being told that our country can’t do something when I believe passionately that it can. And thanks to – thanks to British technology there is a place in Oxfordshire (my former constituency, actually, in Oxfordshire) that could soon be the hottest place in the solar system. In fact, I think they told me it was already the hottest place when I went there. It is 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. Now they tell me they’re really on the verge of the verge.
But remember, about all you sceptics, that it was only a few years ago when people were saying that solar power would never work in cloudy old UK, and that wind turbines would not pull the skin off a rice pudding, remember that?
Well there are some days when wind and solar are delivering more than half our energy needs. And we’re going to be carbon neutral by 2050. We can do it. With new technology, we can do it. We can become carbon-neutral by 2050. 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, the whole of the UK is going to benefit from these investments. And soon we will be sending missions to the heavens geostationary satellites, and by the way infrastructure in space will be of huge value to this country.
"We can become carbon-neutral by 2050. We can beat the sceptics."
Now, conference can you think of anyone who could trial the next mission? Can you think which communist cosmonaut we should coax into the cockpit? Well, there you – the invitation is there.
Let’s get Brexit done on October the 31st. 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 control of those fish to the control to the EU. We want to turbo-charge the Scottish fishing sector; they would allow Brussels to charge for our turbot. You could see that joke coming, but it’s true.
We will be able to allow UK businesses when we leave the EU, and manufacturers, to have bigger tax breaks for investment they make in capital and new technology. Out of the EU, we can do free ports, we can use the tax regime to do freeports and new enterprize zones. We can ban the shipment of live animals which has offended the British people for so long. And yes, we will have those free trade deals.
We already have some astonishing exports, as I never tire of telling you. Actually in the last few months I’ve seen an Isle of Wight ship-builder that exports vast leisure catamarans to Mexico. We export Jason Donovan CDs to North Korea, would you believe it, and we exported Nigel Farage briefly to America – though he seems to have come back.
Across the world there are countries – and anybody who is involved in the foreign side, who travels abroad, they will testify to this – across the world, that are yearning to engage with us where we have old friendships and burgeoning new partnerships. And particularly in the Commonwealth, was that Priti heckling me from the front? Interjecting from a sedentary position, but she’s quite right: 2.4 billion people, Some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Amazing opportunities.
And that is our 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 our vision for Britain: a country that is open, outward-looking, global in mindset and insisting on free trade."
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 and look after our veterans; Corbyn has said he wants the Armed Forces 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 United States, and he would break up the United Kingdom. We cannot allow it to happen.
But it is worse than that. Because 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 on EU membership, that could be going on the NHS?
Let’s get Brexit done. Let’s finally believe in ourselves and what we can do.
This country has long been a pioneer. We inaugurated the steam age, right here in Manchester, the atomic age, the age of the genome. We led the way in parliamentary democracy, and in female emancipation.
And when the whole world had succumbed to a different economic 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 rededicate 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.
Conference, let’s get Brexit done and let’s bring our country together.