“Conservative Party members, dear colleagues and friends. Good morning. I’m very pleased to be able to address you here at our online Spring Forum, which is our first major national gathering as a party this year.
In just a few days’ time, I’m finally going to be able to go to the barbers.
But more important than that, I’m going to be able to go down the street and cautiously but irreversibly, I’m going to drink a pint of beer in the pub.
And as things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love.
And then of course, there are plenty of risks.
And we’ve got to be honest about the difficulties ahead, we are in a different world from last spring.
And that change is the result of one giant development, the fastest rollout of a vaccine this country has ever seen.
And my friends, you know, my reputation for tact and diplomacy, and I will make no comparisons with any other country.
But when you go out campaigning in the giant electoral test on May 6, in England, Scotland and Wales
For councils and Mayors and Police and Crime commissioners, for parliamentarians,
I hope, my fellow Conservatives, you will not hesitate to make this basic point about the incredible scientific breakthrough that we’ve just seen.
Yes, government played a pretty big role, the Vaccine Task Force, the bottling plants we helped to set up, the scientists we funded, and I renew my thanks and admiration for the incredible work of our NHS, our GPs, our nurses, our health care workers of all kinds.
They’re heroes, heroes, heroes,
To say nothing of local council staff and volunteers, and the Army, so many thousands of others.
But in the end, none of this would have been possible without the innovative genius and commercial might
And you know what I’m going to say – the might of the private sector – the free market economy.
Because at the heart of this vaccine rollout, there is a huge and unmissable lesson about the need for private risk taking capitalist energy.
Never forget that Labour not only voted to stay in the European Medicines Agency.
Oh yes they did,
With what would have been incalculable consequences for our vaccine rollout.
But they actually stood for election on a kind of weird plan: part Mao, part Islington.
A manifesto they haven’t yet repudiated, to destroy the whole commercial basis of the British pharmaceutical industry.
And that shows the fundamental difference between us.
We’re a One Nation Conservative government, and we continue in spite of the pandemic, to deliver on the promises we made in that great election of 2019.
We have recruited more than 6000 of the 20,000 police, we’re building the 40 new hospitals.
We’re recruiting the 50,000 more nurses, 10,600 now in the NHS this year, as opposed to last year.
And we’re engaged in the biggest infrastructure revolution for a century from gigabit broadband gone from 7% when I was elected leader of this Party to 50% this year.
Reversing some of the Beeching cuts to our railways amidst many other projects, giving people, communities the hope and opportunity and convenience that comes from thousands and thousands, of new, clean, green, British made buses.
And we’re making some of the key changes that we will need for when our economy bounces back later this year. I’m absolutely sure that it is going to bounce back strongly.
We’re going to need the lifetime skills guarantee, the lifetime skills guarantee!
A fully funded course for adults to get the skills and qualifications they need, you need, to move to the right new job.
We’re backing the government’s 95% mortgage scheme so that we can begin to transform generation rent to generation buy and as Conservatives, we’re doing all this while remaining prudent with public finances.
Yeah, of course it’s true. We’re putting record sums into health and education.
We’ve just done the biggest uplift in defence spending since the end of the Cold War,
But we’re also setting out our plans in that Budget of Rishi’s to bring debt down again.
And it’s by holding taxes down and spending wisely, which is the signature of Conservative local government up and down the land.
And by the way, also, by harnessing all the advantages of our new regulatory freedom, it’s by doing these things that we will turbo charge the innovation that I’ve seen happening right now across the UK.
In Scotland I’ve talked to the amazing Scottish scientists at the Valneva plant in Livingston,
Where they’ll soon be making a new variant-busting vaccine.
In Northern Ireland, I saw an incredible new company Axial 3D that can make a 3D model of your organs using an MRI scan or a CT scan, so a surgeon knows exactly what to do.
And of course in Wales, I’ve seen the great Wrexham plant of Wockhardt, where the serried ranks of tiny vaccine bottles are being filled and sent out in great battalions wave after unstoppable wave to fight and defeat the armies of disease.
In scientific effort in the NHS in the work of the Armed Forces, and government at all levels,
I see the whole of the United Kingdom working together.
And it seems incredible, that on May 6 we face opponents who would literally try to smash up this partnership and destroy forever the formula for British success.
And we face a Labour Party that has done nothing much more during the pandemic than weave like a bunch of wobbly weathervanes
Backing the government one week, bashing us the next
And spending most of their time wondering which public statues to tear down or whether ‘Hereward the Wake’ should now be known as ‘Hereward the Woke’.
So let’s not be put off our stride.
Let’s remember that across the country, it is Conservatives, Conservative councils, Conservative councillors,
That deliver better value for money and let’s take our great one nation message to the people, of strong and dynamic Conservative government
That fosters a vast and creative private sector and jab by jab, job by job, we will be on the road to national recovery.
See you on the campaign trail, I hope even in person, and have a great Easter.