Billed as Boris Johnson’s ‘vision to level up the United Kingdom’, this morning’s speech in the West Midlands ended up being little more than a rehashed press release, sewn together with tired rhetorical flourishes and buzzwords.
The prime minister’s rambling 4,000 word address at a Coventry factory resembled a university essay written the night before deadline.
Taking a scattergun approach, Johnson promised to cure the nation’s ills with a package of road and rail investment, hospital building, investment in community football pitches and cycle paths, tackling junk food, a drive to remove graffiti and chewing gum and the list went on and on.
His comments were peppered with well worn phrases like “levelling up” and “build back better”, but in truth we got no closer to understanding what any of it meant.
— Dan O'Donoghue (@MrDanDonoghue) July 15, 2021
It was also quite telling that for a prime minister who bills himself as “minister for the Union” that Scotland got only a cursory mention.
His promises to invest in the A1 and ensure HS2 goes to Scotland were overshadowed by the fact he referred to Newcastle as the north east of “our country”.
Prime minister, look at a map. The UK does not stop at Berwick.
The question many may ask after today’s speech is why? Why after two years in office is this the best you’ve got? Why make a speech that was obviously empty?
Some have speculated this was a bid to reassure shire Tories that he wasn’t favouring the new northern crop of Conservatives over them, others have suggested it was intended as a distraction after England’s footballers called out Johnson’s government for giving the green light to racists.
Whatever it was, it’s probably best we try and forget it.