Boris John­son

Boris John­son breaks his si­lence to set out a blue­print for the fu­ture, mak­ing it clear he be­lieves we can be­come the great­est coun­try on Earth

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page -

My friends, I must re­port that there are at least some peo­ple who are woe­fully un­der­es­ti­mat­ing this coun­try. They think Brexit isn’t go­ing to hap­pen. There are some me­dia ob­servers – in this coun­try and around the world – who think we are go­ing to bot­tle it.

I de­tect scep­ti­cism about whether we have the stamina, the guts, the per­sis­tence to pull it off. They think that the Brexit Bill will get lost in a House of Com­mons crevasse or buried in some in­ter­minable Jarndyce and Jarndyce legal pro­ceed­ings.

They think that we will sim­ply de­spair of find­ing the way out of the EU and sit down on the floor and cry – like some tod­dler lost in the maze at Hamp­ton Court.

Well, in so far as they doubt our re­solve, I be­lieve they are wrong; and I am here to tell you that this coun­try will suc­ceed in our new na­tional en­ter­prise, and will suc­ceed might­ily.

Those 17.4 mil­lion peo­ple – they weren’t fools, you know. They weren’t stupid. They weren’t as bad as some would have you be­lieve.

They were right; and even if you think they were wrong, I hope you agree that it is our duty, as democrats, to ful­fil the man­date they gave us.

I re­spect those who voted to re­main. More than re­spect them. They num­ber some of the peo­ple I love the most in the world. And we all know that it is far too sim­ple to di­vide this coun­try into Leavers and Re­main­ers.

We know the com­plex­ity of the de­ci­sion, and how each per­son brought dif­fer­ent mix­tures of rea­son and emo­tion, heart and head.

There were life­long Euroscep­tics who de­cided at the last mo­ment to re­main; and a great many, in my view, whose heart said leave, but whose re­solve was fi­nally shaken by the warn­ings of the Gov­ern­ment, the BBC, Barack Obama, the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury, the CBI, every ma­jor po­lit­i­cal party and much of the me­dia. And then there were dyed-inthe-wool Europhiles, who thought Brus­sels was go­ing too far and the only way to get change was to vote Leave.

It is not fair or right for one side to stereo­type the mo­tives of the other, be­cause there is no stereo­type. But the choice was bi­nary. The re­sult was de­ci­sive. There is sim­ply no way – or no good way – of be­ing 52 per cent out and 48 per cent in.

Be­fore the ref­er­en­dum, we all agreed on what leav­ing the EU log­i­cally must en­tail: leav­ing the cus­toms union and the sin­gle mar­ket, leav­ing the penum­bra of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice; tak­ing back con­trol of our bor­ders, cash, laws.

That is the pro­gramme that Theresa May set out with such clarity in her speech on Jan­uary 17 at Lan­caster House, and that is what she and her Gov­ern­ment will de­liver.

Over­whelm­ingly, I find that Leavers and Re­main­ers are com­ing to­gether – some­times with a slight im­pa­tience – and urg­ing us to get on and do it, and do a deal that is in the in­ter­ests of both sides of the Chan­nel.

In 10 years’, 20 years’ time, when we con­sider the arc of his­tory com­prised by our 45 years of EU mem­ber­ship, we will have a bet­ter and fairer com­pre­hen­sion of these events – why the Bri­tish peo­ple wanted to join and why, even­tu­ally and some­times re­gret­fully, they wanted to leave.

To un­der­stand why we wanted to join, you have to re­mem­ber the shock of Suez, the loss of con­fi­dence in Westminster and White­hall, the way in which this postim­pe­rial fu­ture was sold to the peo­ple – a Com­mon Mar­ket, a way of max­imis­ing trade.

Then came the grad­ual re­al­i­sa­tion that this was a very dif­fer­ent agenda, an at­tempt not just at eco­nomic but po­lit­i­cal in­te­gra­tion of a kind that the Bri­tish peo­ple had never bar­gained for; and you may re­mem­ber how we were re­peat­edly as­sured that even if we were un­happy with the di­rec­tion of the pro­ject, even if we dis­agreed with the con­cept of ever closer union, it was none the less worth putting up with it all for the sake of the in­flu­ence we would have.

Of course we should pay trib­ute to the pa­tri­otic Bri­tish men and women who went out to Brus­sels and got stuck into those in­sti­tu­tions. The EU to­day is bet­ter for their con­tri­bu­tion, but in the end we have to ac­cept that they were only partly suc­cess­ful. And it is no­table that to­day their num­bers have di­min­ished to the point where the UK rep­re­sents 16 per cent of EU GDP and 13 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion but only 3.6 per cent of EU of­fi­cials.

If we had been asked to de­sign the EU our­selves, on a blank sheet of pa­per, we would have noth­ing like the body that ex­ists to­day. We tried so of­ten to frus­trate it.

I was there at the An­tibes ecofin meet­ing, made up of the eco­nomics and fi­nance min­is­ters from all mem­ber states, when Bri­tish of­fi­cials made a gal­lant at­tempt to stran­gle the euro at birth with a pro­ject called the “hard Ecu”, or fixe­drate Euro­pean Cur­rency Unit.

I was there when they am­bushed Mar­garet Thatcher at the Rome sum­mit with con­clu­sions that the Bri­tish thought had been ex­plic­itly re­jected.

I re­mem­ber how we kept try­ing to stop this or that – we re­jected the very no­tion of po­lit­i­cal union; we tried to stop the ex­pan­sion of ma­jor­ity vot­ing.

And I re­mem­ber the mantra of EU of­fi­cials – Bri­tain ob­jects, Bri­tain protests, but in the end she al­ways signs up.

Although we kept try­ing to deny it – with an em­bar­rass­ing lack of re­al­ism – we all knew that the logic was not eco­nomic but po­lit­i­cal. It wasn’t about cre­at­ing a sin­gle mar­ket; it was about truss­ing the na­tions to­gether in a gi­gan­tic and ev­er­tight­en­ing cat’s cra­dle of red tape.

And to­day the ar­gu­ment is still the same – that if only we were there we could some­how re­form it all, make it more con­ge­nial to our in­stincts. I wish that were true.

Yes, we do have al­lies – coun­tries that look to us for a lead on dereg­u­la­tion, and free mar­kets, and try to re­sist the cen­tral­is­ing role of the Com­mis­sion. But I am afraid that all too of­ten, when push comes to shove, that ap­par­ent will­ing­ness to sup­port the UK po­si­tion is less pow­er­ful than the great cen­tripetal force of in­te­gra­tion.

To every ques­tion, to every cri­sis – whether it is the euro or im­mi­gra­tion – the an­swer is al­ways the same: more Europe!

I look ahead over the next 15 years at what may be com­ing down the track: the push to cre­ate an eco­nomic gov­ern­ment of Europe, the ac­tivism of the ECJ in all the new com­pe­tences of the Lis­bon Treaty; and I ask my­self, do I re­ally be­lieve that if we had stayed in, we would have pro­duced a more de­volved, a more de­cen­tralised, a more free-trad­ing Euro­pean Union?

I am afraid not.

And there­fore it is wrong for us to be there – al­ways try­ing to make things dif­fer­ent, al­ways get­ting in the way, al­ways moan­ing.

Our friends have em­barked on a vi­sion­ary but dif­fi­cult pro­ject. Though the eu­ro­zone is grow­ing more strongly now – and that is im­mensely pos­i­tive – the logic of their am­bi­tion means try­ing to con­struct what is ef­fec­tively a sin­gle polity out of 27 coun­tries.

That plan is sim­ply not for Bri­tain, and we should have been more hon­est about it years ago. We have spent too much time try­ing, and of­ten fail­ing, to ex­ert in­flu­ence in the meet­ing rooms of Brus­sels. That ex­er­cise has di­verted mas­sive quan­ti­ties of the in­tel­lec­tual en­ergy of the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment, and it has not helped us to ad­dress the real chal­lenges this coun­try faces.

It is im­por­tant to have a sense of per­spec­tive about these chal­lenges, be­cause the sky has not fallen in since June 23. We have not seen the proph­e­sied 500,000 in­crease in unem­ploy­ment and the Trea­sury has not so far sought to pun­ish the Bri­tish peo­ple with an emer­gency bud­get.

On the con­trary: unem­ploy­ment is at record lows, and man­u­fac­tur­ing is boom­ing “in spite of Brexit”, as the BBC would put it. (Have you no­ticed that any good news is al­ways “in spite of Brexit”?)

But, of course, this coun­try still has chronic prob­lems, and at least some of them have been ex­ac­er­bated by the rigidi­ties of EU mem­ber­ship – and cer­tainly by the way we have cho­sen legally to ap­ply those obli­ga­tions.

Our in­fra­struc­ture is too ex­pen­sive – and takes far longer than France or other coun­tries.

Suc­ces­sive govern­ments have failed to build enough homes – though this is now be­ing tack­led by Sa­jid Javid.

Our vo­ca­tional train­ing is of­ten su­perb – but still not in­spi­ra­tional, and we have yet to find a way of per­suad­ing mid­dle-class kids that they might be just as well off get­ting a skill as a de­gree.

We do not con­duct enough ba­sic re­search in science, and I am afraid we still have too many schools that are con­tent with sec­ond-best.

The re­sult of all these fail­ings – over decades – is that we have low pro­duc­tiv­ity: lower than France or Ger­many.

I be­lieve we have an im­mense can-do spirit. I have seen it in ac­tion. But we also have a truly phe­nom­e­nal abil­ity to de­lay and to rack up cost. We have been able to blame bu­reau­cracy and to blame Brus­sels, and my point is that af­ter Brexit we will no longer be able to blame any­one but our­selves.

Our des­tiny will be in our own hands, and that will be im­mensely healthy.

We are not go­ing to dis­man­tle the cor­pus of EU law on exit. On the con­trary, the ob­jec­tive of the Re­peal Bill is to in­cor­po­rate it. Our sys­tems of stan­dards will re­main ab­so­lutely flush with the rest of the EU.

We would not ex­pect to pay for ac­cess to their mar­kets any more than they would ex­pect to pay for ac­cess to ours.

And yes – once we have set­tled our ac­counts, we will take back con­trol of roughly £350 mil­lion per week. It would be a fine thing, as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of that money went on the NHS, pro­vided we use that cash in­jec­tion to mod­ernise and make the most of new tech­nol­ogy. The NHS is one of the great uni­fy­ing in­sti­tu­tions of our coun­try. It is the top po­lit­i­cal pri­or­ity of the Bri­tish peo­ple and, un­der the lead­er­ship of Jeremy Hunt, it is in­deed the top pri­or­ity of the Con­ser­va­tive Party. Com­ing out of the EU will give us an op­por­tu­nity to drive that mes­sage home.

As we take back con­trol of our cash, and our bor­ders, and our laws, we will cer­tainly not jet­ti­son what is good. We will keep en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial pro­tec­tions that are fair and wise.

But over time we will be able to di­verge from the great ac­cu­mu­lated con­glom­er­ate, to act with reg­u­la­tory free­dom. I mean no dis­re­spect to the au­thors and cham­pi­ons of the sin­gle mar­ket – but whether you be­lieve such no­table au­thor­i­ties as Peter Man­del­son, who once claimed that EU reg­u­la­tion cost us 4 per cent of GDP, or Gor­don Brown, who said the cost was nearer 7 per cent, it is fair to say that it has not pro­duced the growth or the syn­er­gies that were orig­i­nally fore­cast.

Out­side the EU, there are ob­vi­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties – in agri­cul­ture, fish­eries, in the set­ting of in­di­rect tax­a­tion. At the stroke of a pen, for in­stance, the Chan­cel­lor will be able to cut VAT on tam­pons. This is of­ten de­manded by Par­lia­ment but – ab­surdly – it is legally im­pos­si­ble to de­liver.

‘I am here to tell you that this coun­try will suc­ceed in our new na­tional en­ter­prise, and will suc­ceed might­ily’

‘I find that Leavers and Re­main­ers are com­ing to­gether and urg­ing us to get on and do a deal that is in the in­ter­ests of both sides of the Chan­nel’

We will have an im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy that suits the UK, not slam­ming the door but wel­com­ing the tal­ent we need, from the EU and around the world. Of course we will make sure that busi­ness gets the skills it needs, but busi­ness will no longer be able to use im­mi­gra­tion as an ex­cuse not to in­vest in the young peo­ple of this coun­try.

And I can think of ob­vi­ous ways in which Brexit can help us tackle the hous­ing cri­sis – per­haps the sin­gle big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing the younger gen­er­a­tion.

There may be ways of sim­pli­fy­ing plan­ning pro­ce­dures, post-brexit, and ab­bre­vi­at­ing im­pact assess­ments, with­out in any way com­pro­mis­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

It is of­ten pointed out that the price of hous­ing in cer­tain parts of Lon­don may be pushed up by buy­ers from over­seas. But there is no point in putting any kind of tax on for­eign buy­ers, be­cause the in­hab­i­tants of 27 other coun­tries can­not legally be treated as for­eign.

No one would want a tax that dis­cour­aged in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment and stopped good de­vel­op­ments from hap­pen­ing. No one would want to send a sig­nal that the Lon­don mar­ket was closed. But it would at least be pos­si­ble to have the ar­gu­ment. That is what we mean by tak­ing back con­trol.

Out­side the EU, we will be on our met­tle – obliged to set pol­icy to pri­ori­tise ar­eas where the UK is strong. One of the ad­van­tages of in­vest­ing in the NHS – if we com­bine that in­vest­ment with re­form – is that we can tur­bocharge the role of our health ser­vice in driv­ing bio­science.

The NHS is a na­tional as­set whose data banks record the dizzy­ing range of dis­eases that our flesh is heir to. Freed from EU regimes – of­ten cum­ber­some and hard to change – we will be able to ac­cel­er­ate our work on gene ther­apy – an in­fant science, now tak­ing its first fal­ter­ing steps, whose po­ten­tial is gi­gan­tic. Bri­tain is al­ready at the fore­front of this, and we can lengthen our lead.

We should seize the op­por­tu­nity of Brexit to re­form our tax sys­tem. Andy Hal­dane, the Bank of Eng­land’s chief econ­o­mist, ar­gued in 2015 that our sys­tem is cur­rently skewed so as to dis­cour­age in­vest­ment. He be­lieves that re­form could raise out­put by around 20 per cent.

We should use the op­por­tu­ni­ties af­forded by his­tor­i­cally low in­ter­est rates to give this coun­try the in­fra­struc­ture it de­serves – es­pe­cially in Lon­don, the most dy­namic and pro­duc­tive ur­ban econ­omy in Europe, where things seem frankly to have gone a bit quiet since the de­par­ture of the last Mayor.

There is an agenda that will help to drive the UK econ­omy for decades – new road tun­nels, new bridges, Cross­rail 2, Tube ex­ten­sions, and the hous­ing de­vel­op­ments made pos­si­ble by this in­fra­struc­ture.

This is our chance to catch the wave of new tech­nol­ogy, and to put Bri­tain in the lead. In the next 20 years I be­lieve tra­di­tional car com­pa­nies will van­ish as we switch to au­to­mated ve­hi­cles. Mil­lions of jobs will go, and mil­lions of new jobs will be cre­ated. Tra­di­tional sup­ply chains will be dis­rupted, and new sup­ply chains will be cre­ated. And, of course, the in­stinct of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion will al­ways be to pro­tect against that rev­o­lu­tion, to reg­u­late, to muf­fle that change – lis­ten­ing, as they al­ways do, to the vested in­ter­ests of the big EU man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Peo­ple of­ten ask them­selves why the EU has failed to pro­duced a sin­gle ma­jor tech gi­ant on the scale of those found in Amer­ica. Well, part of the an­swer may be found in the statist and top-down ap­proach that char­ac­terises the think­ing of the Com­mis­sion.

Have you ever won­dered what hap­pened to Mini­tel, the state-owned and man­aged French equiv­a­lent of Google? Or what good was done by all those di­rec­tives – dat­ing from the early Nineties – on les réseaux télé­ma­tiques? Did they pro­duce a Euro­pean cham­pion? Pas en­core.

There are in fact four zones of the world where big tech in­vest­ments are made: Bos­ton, Sil­i­con Val­ley, Shang­hai and the tri­an­gle formed by Lon­don, Ox­ford and Cam­bridge.

Let us have the con­fi­dence to ex­per­i­ment, to be at the cut­ting edge. My brother, Jo John­son, is fi­nal­is­ing the can­di­dates for the lo­ca­tion of a new UK space cen­tre, and this Gov­ern­ment is in­vest­ing in the truly rev­o­lu­tion­ary Sabre pro­ject in Hamp­shire – a sys­tem that prom­ises rad­i­cally to re­duce our jour­ney times around this Earth.

We are in­vest­ing in the new bat­tery tech­nol­ogy that will be part of the driver­less rev­o­lu­tion. And this coun­try al­ready boasts com­pa­nies such as Deep Mind, one of the most promis­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence com­pa­nies in the world.

These are just some of the most ob­vi­ous ar­eas for the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of UK tech­nol­ogy. What we can­not now know – as the great French econ­o­mist Bas­tiat ob­served in the 19th cen­tury – is the un­seen op­por­tu­nity cost of the way the UK eco­nomic struc­ture has evolved to fit the EU over the last four and a half decades, and the pro­duc­tive ways in which it might now evolve.

But we do know one thing: that we will be able to get on and do free trade deals, to cam­paign for free trade that has lifted bil­lions out of poverty, which so badly needs a new cham­pion.

We will be able to in­ten­sify old friend­ships around the world, not least with fast-grow­ing Com­mon­wealth economies, and to build a truly Global Bri­tain.

Bri­tain’s suc­cess will not be a bad thing for our friends across the Chan­nel. On the con­trary, it will mean a big­ger mar­ket in the UK for ev­ery­thing from Ital­ian cars to Ger­man wine. And we will be there for our friends and part­ners.

We will be the largest mil­i­tary power in Europe, and with our grow­ing de­fence bud­get we are now mak­ing an ever-more vivid com­mit­ment to the de­fence of Europe – like the new de­ploy­ments in Es­to­nia – and to our com­mon Euro­pean ideals and val­ues.

That is the goal the Prime Min­is­ter has set out – a strong EU, but­tressed and sup­ported by a strong UK, and linked by a deep and spe­cial part­ner­ship founded on the mu­tual ben­e­fits of free trade.

We have a glo­ri­ous fu­ture – but hardly any of this would be pos­si­ble un­der the bizarre and in­co­her­ent plans of the Labour Party. It seems that Jeremy Cor­byn has chick­ened out. He has al­ready be­trayed the stu­dents who voted for him, drop­ping his ab­surd pledge to can­cel all their debts.

Now he is be­tray­ing the mil­lions of Labour sup­port­ers who voted Leave and who thought that he also wanted to leave, to get on and de­liver the will of the peo­ple. (For a man of such un­bend­ing Lefty prin­ci­ple, he seems to have a re­mark­able beardy abil­ity to speak out both sides of his mouth.)

Now it ap­pears he wants to re­main in the sin­gle mar­ket and the cus­toms union. In other words, he would make a com­plete mock­ery of Brexit, and turn an op­por­tu­nity into a na­tional hu­mil­i­a­tion. It would be the worst of both worlds, with the UK turned into a vas­sal state – tak­ing di­rec­tion from the EU, but with no power to in­flu­ence the EU’S de­ci­sions.

It is a to­tally in­ver­te­brate po­si­tion, and be­trays a dis­mal lack of con­fi­dence in this coun­try.

Iend on the point with which I be­gan – that ground­less and pe­cu­liar lack of con­fi­dence in Bri­tain.

I re­mem­ber when the pro­ject for Euro­pean cit­i­zen­ship was launched by Jac­ques Delors in the early Nineties. At the time, I thought it was a bit of a gim­mick. I used to doubt that you could build such a thing as a Euro­pean iden­tity out of the mo­saic of states. I was in­dig­nant when they came out with the Euro­pean pass­port, and when they said that all car num­ber­plates had to carry the 12-star flag, but I never thought that Brus­sels would suc­ceed in its aim. I used to look at the Brus­sels bumper stick­ers say­ing “Mon

pa­trie, c’est Europe” and think it was a bit of a laugh, and that they would never en­gen­der a gen­uine Euro-pa­tri­o­tism, or com­pete with peo­ple’s nat­u­ral feelings for their own coun­try.

I have to say that I am now not so sure. I think I was com­pla­cent. I look at so many young peo­ple with the 12 stars lip­sticked on their faces and I am trou­bled with the thought that peo­ple are be­gin­ning to have gen­uinely split al­le­giances.

And when peo­ple say that they feel they have more in com­mon with oth­ers in Europe than with peo­ple who voted Leave, I want to say: “But that is part of the rea­son why peo­ple voted Leave.”

You don’t have to be some tub-thump­ing na­tion­al­ist to worry that a transna­tional sense of al­le­giance can weaken the ties be­tween us; and you don’t have to be an out-and-out na­tion­al­ist to feel an im­mense pride in this coun­try and what it can do.

We have the big­gest fi­nan­cial cen­tre in this hemi­sphere – and, by com­mon con­sent, we will still have one by the time the Brexit con­tro­versy is a dis­tant mem­ory. I have seen the prophets of doom proved wrong so many times.

They said it would be a dis­as­ter if we left the ERM in 1992, and again if we failed to join the euro in 1999; and again in the 2008 crash, when they proph­e­sied that the bankers would flee to Zug and Zurich. Yet Lon­don has sailed serenely through, rid­ing the waves of ad­ver­sity, as we have for cen­turies.

Look at Ca­nary Wharf – a bank­ing dis­trict now big­ger than Frank­furt it­self.

Look at our uni­ver­si­ties – the best in the world, with just one Cam­bridge col­lege re­spon­si­ble not just for more No­bel prizes than France but in­deed for more than Rus­sia and China com­bined.

It is an as­ton­ish­ing fact that of all the kings, queens, pres­i­dents and prime min­is­ters in the world, one in seven was ed­u­cated in this coun­try. While I have been For­eign Sec­re­tary, I am proud to have ex­panded the amaz­ing Chevening and Com­mon­wealth schol­ar­ship schemes that bring so many tal­ented peo­ple into this coun­try’s sys­tem, which will en­sure that the lead­ers of the world will be ed­u­cated in Bri­tain – and have a nat­u­ral un­der­stand­ing of and affin­ity for Bri­tain – for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Just stand on the streets of cen­tral Lon­don and lis­ten to the ex­cite­ment of the tourists. We have more in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors to our city than any other cap­i­tal, in­clud­ing Paris and New York.

When you go to the Bri­tish Mu­seum, you visit the world’s great­est th­e­saurus of global cul­ture, and a place that at­tracts more vis­i­tors than the en­tire tourist in­dus­try of 10 other EU coun­tries that I will not men­tion. So don’t you tell me that we are turn­ing our backs on the world. It is not phys­i­cally or emo­tion­ally pos­si­ble.

I was proud to be mayor of the great­est city on Earth, and I be­lieve we can be the great­est coun­try on Earth. In­deed, a re­cent estimate by the Henry Jack­son So­ci­ety just this month made a tally of the var­i­ous na­tions’ po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural throw-weight, and con­cluded that, with the sec­ond big­gest con­tri­bu­tion to Nato; with our forces de­ployed around the world; with our bankers, our chefs, our sci­en­tists, our po­ets and, yes, our diplomats, Bri­tain at the be­gin­ning of the 21st cen­tury was the sec­ond­great­est power on Earth af­ter Amer­ica.

And since I re­gard the United States as one of the finest ide­o­log­i­cal and cul­tural cre­ations of this coun­try – even if in­vol­un­tar­ily – I am pre­pared to live with that as­sess­ment.

We have more Bri­tish peo­ple liv­ing over­seas – a big­ger di­as­pora – than any other OECD coun­try. A great, bright, warm six-mil­lion-strong con­stel­la­tion of Bri­tish minds and Bri­tish hearts, a pulse in the eter­nal mind, no less, giv­ing some­where back the thoughts by Bri­tain given (as Ru­pert Brooke al­most puts it). Aid work­ers, jour­nal­ists, busi­ness­peo­ple, artists, all help­ing in myr­iad ways to make the world a bet­ter place.

We have the youngest and fastest-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of any ma­jor EU econ­omy, and on cur­rent es­ti­mates we will be the most pop­u­lous coun­try in west­ern Europe by the mid­dle of this cen­tury.

If we or­gan­ise, if we plan, if we build the homes and the in­fra­struc­ture we need, if we give our young peo­ple the skills and the con­fi­dence that they could so eas­ily ac­quire, then we can also en­sure that this coun­try is not just the place where ev­ery­one wants to come and live, but the place with the high­est stan­dard of liv­ing, with the per-capita GDP, the pro­duc­tiv­ity and the qual­ity of life that we de­serve.

That means in­sist­ing on a cul­ture that is pro-busi­ness and pro-en­ter­prise, but one that is so dy­namic that fat cats can no longer sit un­pun­ished in their jobs when they let ev­ery­one down.

It means sim­pli­fy­ing reg­u­la­tion, and cut­ting taxes, wher­ever we can – but also en­sur­ing that ev­ery­one in a com­pany is de­cently paid, be­cause that is the way to boost pro­duc­tiv­ity.

I am not say­ing that all this will be some kind of cinch. I do not un­der­es­ti­mate the scale of the task ahead as we take back con­trol of our des­tiny.

All I say is that they are in griev­ous er­ror – all those who write off this coun­try, who think we don’t have it in us, who think that we lack the nerve and the con­fi­dence to tackle the task ahead.

They have been proved wrong be­fore and, be­lieve me, they will be proved wrong again.

‘This is our chance to catch the wave of new tech­nol­ogy, and to put Bri­tain in the lead’

The For­eign Sec­re­tary, Boris John­son, is en­thu­si­as­tic about the op­por­tu­ni­ties Bri­tain will have

‘It would be a fine thing, as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of our con­tri­bu­tion to the EU went on the NHS,’ says Mr John­son

‘I was there when they am­bushed Mar­garet Thatcher at the Rome sum­mit,’ says Mr John­son

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