Boris Johnson to clear petrol lines and empty shelves on Wednesday as evidence of a ‘change of direction’ towards a high-wage economy, as he closes a Tory conference in which supply shortages were hardly recognized.
The Prime Minister channeled Margaret Thatcher on Tuesday to insist “there is no other alternative” than to continue the post-Brexit transition to a labor market less dependent on immigration.
When asked if the UK is facing a crisis, Johnson said ‘no’. “It’s not the government’s job to step in and try to solve all the problems in business and industry,” he said.
Despite warnings from business groups about rising prices and continuing shortages of key products heading into Christmas, he will tell party loyalists in Manchester that a bright future awaits them.
“This is the direction this country is going – towards a high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy that the people of this country need and deserve, in which everyone can be proud of their work and of the quality of his work. work, ”he should say.
“We are not going back to the same old broken model of low wages, low growth, low skills and low productivity, all enabled and assisted by uncontrolled immigration. “
Sources in Downing Street insisted the Prime Minister’s approach was not “Panglossian optimism” but a determination to overcome disruption.
Senior Tories said the results of focus groups and polls so far told them the public did not blame the government for the supply crisis and that they were “giving them the benefit of the doubt”. the moment.
But a cabinet minister has privately warned that if the shortages persist, government support could run out quickly. Another leader said he was worried about complacency, pointing out that gasoline shortages still plagued his constituency.
In the United States earlier this month, the prime minister insisted market forces would solve oil shortages, but days after his return, ministers suspended competition laws in the oil industry. energy and called the army.
Johnson and his best team have avoided flashy announcements at the four-day rally in Manchester in favor of repeatedly hammering out the message that they are “doing their job” to upgrade the UK.
In a nod to the concerns of southern conservatives that leveling is a hard sell in their constituencies, the PM will reframe it as a way to reduce overcrowding.
He will claim that the policy “will take the pressure off parts of the overheated southeast while simultaneously offering hope and opportunity to areas that have felt left behind.”
Business groups have been upset by the government’s insistence that it is up to the private sector to solve the supply chain problems that have plagued a range of industries.
James Martin, UK Chambers of Commerce Policy Director, said: “Businesses support the government’s ambition to shift to a sustainably high-skilled, high-wage economy that does more to harness local skills and talents, but it tis a huge transition that will not happen overnight… Just doing it is not an option.
Business groups have pointed out that companies are facing a massive increase in a number of initial cost pressures, including raw materials and transportation, with an imminent increase in national insurance contributions.
Martin warned that prices are expected to rise. “Given the stresses companies are under, it is almost inevitable that many will need to increase their prices to remain viable and our own data suggests that this process is already underway.”
Johnson played down inflation fears on Tuesday by saying, “People have been worried about inflation for a very long time. I am experiencing robust economic growth.
Inflation stood at 3% last month and domestic energy prices are expected to continue to rise sharply in the coming months. Cash-strapped consumers are also on the verge of being hit by the £ 20 per week cut in universal credit and the 1p increase in national insurance contributions.
National Farmers’ Union Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “Farm businesses have done everything they can to recruit staff nationally, but even increasingly competitive salaries have had little impact. impact because the labor pool is so limited – instead, they only increase production. costs. A solution to this crisis will require the right people with the right skills and the right training available in rural areas where many roles are based. “
He called for a short-term Covid recovery visa, alongside a permanent seasonal worker program, which would give farmers time to invest in skills and recruit a national workforce.
Tony Danker, CEO of CBI, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “We have labor shortages, high gas prices, pressure on the supply chain, we have need government and business to work together to solve this problem. The idea that one side can solve what is a pretty stressful time for the global economy, I just don’t think that helps. “
The latest official figures showed an increase in average earnings of 6.8% during the year through July; but the Office for National Statistics warned that “the interpretation should be taken with caution” as growth partly reflects workers returning from leave.