British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Signalling a major change in approach, the Prime Minister announced that dumping EU state aid rules will allow the Government to intervene quicker to support jobs once the departure from the bloc is completed. He also promised that a new Australian-style points-based immigration system will be in place by January 21 if he wins a Tory majority in the general election on December 12. “We will back British business by ensuring that the public sector buys British,” the Prime Minister said.
“We’ll scrap the tampon tax. We’ll back British industry by making sure we can intervene when great British businesses are struggling.
“These are some of the benefits that will directly result from leaving the EU.”
Mr Johnson made his promise as he reunited with former colleagues Michael Gove and Giesla Stuart from the 2016 referendum Leave campaign to highlight the Tory pledge to deliver on the vote to quit the EU.
Ms Stuart, a former Labour minister, urged traditional Labour voters who support Brexit to back the Tories in the election to break the deadlock over the departure from the EU.
Mr Johnson’s package of proposals included:
- A new state aid regime to make it easier for the Government to intervene to protect jobs when an industry is struggling;
- Promoting a “buy British” rule for public bodies.
- Changing public-sector purchasing rules so officials favour local firms when buying equipment and services;
- Supporting UK farmers by ensuring the country leaves the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
Recalling the Leave effort in the run up to the 2016 referendum, the Prime Minister said: “We came together to campaign to leave the EU because we shared a vision for this country.
“We believe that this is a great country that could achieve so much more if it could be free from the shackles of the EU.
“We also agreed that too many in our country felt powerless and left behind and wanted more control over their lives.
“We agreed that Brexit was a chance to change Britain for the better.
“And so it’s been incredibly frustrating, and frustrating for the 17.4million people who voted Leave, that change has been delayed, diluted, denied.
“That’s why we had to have this election, in order to break the deadlock in Parliament, that broken parliament over there.
“Now we have an opportunity to make a decisive break with the dither and indecision of the last three and a half years but only so long as people vote Conservative.
“If there is another hung parliament after this election, then the deadlock will continue. The probability is that Jeremy Corbyn will be in Downing Street propped up by Nicola Sturgeon.
“But if there is a Conservative majority government we can deliver the change that people voted for.”
Mr Johnson promised the new post-Brexit immigration system would come into force by January 21 2021 if the country leaves the EU.
“By lowering the number of unskilled immigrants who have been able to come here with no job lined up, the system will remove a major force of downward pressure on wages.
“Getting Brexit done will allow us to deliver change more widely across the country,” he said.
He also vowed to scrap the so-called “Tampon Tax”, the EU law that regulates levels of VAT in member state that demands a 5 percent sales tax on sanitary products.
Mr Gove said: “The referendum didn’t create divisions in society, it revealed them. “Divisions between north and south, rich and poor, young and old that politicians of all parties had failed to address for too long.
“Across the country there overlooked families and undervalued communities who believe the system has not worked in their best interests.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn
“While some particularly in London and the South East have reaped the benefits of economic growth, other parts of the country were left behind.
“People voted for change, but three and a half years on that change has still not been delivered.
“Politicians have failed to honour the biggest vote for change ever seen in this country; that, sadly, will forever be a stain on the last parliament.
“The great risk of this election is that there is another hung parliament meaning more dither, delay and deadlock.”
He added: “A vote for any party other than the Conservatives is in effect a vote for another hung parliament, a vote for more dither and delay, a vote for a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance, a vote for two more referendums next year.
“Put simply, a vote for any party other than the Conservatives is a vote against change.”
The Institute of Directors expressed concern about the move last night.
Allie Renison, head of Europe and trade policy at the institute, said: “While we need more clarity around the detail, the proposals outlined do not fit easily with ambitions for a ‘Global Britain’.
“Indeed they suggest a retreat away from free and open markets, with clear implications for a comprehensive new trade relationship with the EU.
“This is not the kind of divergence we should be seeking in the first instance. It seems like a bad solution in search of the wrong problem.
“Even aside from the trading implications of these policies, there are concerns for the very small and medium sized businesses they claim to be prioritising.
“Propping up failing enterprises and obliging public bodies to ‘buy British’ could end up unfairly protecting and subsidising large incumbents at the expense of true competition and new entrants to the market.”
Julian Jessop, economics fellow at the Institute for Economic Affairs, said: “A ‘Buy British’ policy is pure protectionism, and it comes with heavy costs.
“The Conservatives are showing little understanding of the benefits of free trade, let alone the benefits of Brexit.
“A ‘buy British’ policy would make it harder for the public sector to access the best products at the best price, wherever they happen to be made.
“As a result, consumers or taxpayers will pay more for a lower quality service. Everyone will suffer if there is less choice and less competition.”