‘They believe in levelling down’: Boris Johnson takes aim at Labour during keynote speech at Tory conference

Boris Johnson has branded levelling up “the greatest project that any government can embark on” in his closing speech at the Conservative Party’s annual conference.

In his keynote address marking the end of the four-day event, the prime minister pledged that his top team will “get on with our job of uniting and levelling up across the UK” as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The PM said the UK has one of the most “imbalanced societies and lop-sided economies” when compared to the richer countries in the world which is “holding this country back”.

He added that his government will “promote levelling up with every tool that we have”.

“There is no reason why the inhabitants of one part of the country should be geographically fated to be poorer than others, or why people should feel they have to move away from their loved ones, or communities to reach their potential,” the prime minister said.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

PM heads for major speech with wife Carrie

Accusing the Labour Party of liking “levelling down” and “decapitating the tall poppies and taxing the rich till the pips squeak”, the PM said levelling up will take the pressure off parts of the South East while offering hope and opportunity to areas that have felt left behind.

Receiving a standing ovation as he entered the stage, the PM began his speech by paying tribute to the “untiring, unbeatable, unbelievable NHS” for the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Speaking in a secret hall which holds 1,400 people – more than double the capacity of the main conference hall used by ministers throughout the past few days – the PM told the audience of how “the NHS saved me” as he discusses how the country will recover economically from the pandemic.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘Let’s hear it for Bon Govi’

Standing at a lectern emblazoned with his party’s slogan Build Back Better, the PM pledged that the Conservatives will be the party “to rise to the challenge” of reducing the backlog in the health care system that the pandemic has caused.

“When I stood on the steps of downing street I promised to fix this crisis and after decades of drift and dither this reforming government, this can do government that got Brexit done, is getting the vaccine rollout done, is going to get social care done,” the PM told the conference crowd.

“We are dealing with the biggest underlying issues of our economy and society the problems that no government has had the guts to tackle before.”