Boris Johnson’s Success Depends on Much More Than Brexit | Ryan Hoey
The Conservative Party’s leadership election has finally closed. As a party member with a direct say on our next Prime Minister, I voted for Boris. Three years after the largest democratic exercise in British electoral history, the UK must leave the European Union – deal or no deal – at the end of October. Boris has made such a commitment and must be held to it.
While Jeremy Hunt had some great proposals to slash corporation tax and boost defence spending, he struggled to convince the Tory grassroots of his Brexit credentials. Conservative Home polling has Boris beating Hunt by 67% to 29%. Therefore, it is worth examining how Boris can make a success of his Premiership.
Firstly, by committing to leaving the EU at the end of October, Boris can put the Brexit Party out of business and prevent the hard-left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from becoming Prime Minister. This is essential because Corbyn would not only cancel Brexit, but weaken our defences by scrapping our nuclear deterrent and send our debt soaring with a £200 billion nationalisation programme.
Secondly, Boris can boost living standards by cutting taxes. He has already pledged to take low earners out of paying National Insurance contributions and raise the threshold for the higher rate of income tax. The left has predictably caricatured the latter as a ‘tax cut for the rich.’ However, the number of people paying the 40p rate has risen from 1.7 million in 1990 to 4.3 million today. Without action, the IFS estimate that a quarter of taxpayers will be hit by the higher rate during the course of their careers.
Boris has also thrown his weight behind the idea of creating Singapore-style tax-free zones – or ‘Free Ports’ – as we leave the EU, so firms can import raw materials and make finished goods without facing taxes or tariffs. From Aberdeen to Belfast to Teesside, this would be transformational for UK ports and show the benefits Brexit can offer to the whole of our United Kingdom.
Thirdly, Boris wants to use the Spending Review later this year to focus spending on education and infrastructure. His team has been looking at merging departments to drive efficiencies. This could include merging the Departments for Business, Housing, and Transport into a single Department for Infrastructure to deliver greater investment in transport, R&D and super-fast broadband.
Boris is enthusiastic about transformative infrastructure investments. As Mayor of London, he delivered Crossrail – the biggest construction project in Europe. As Prime Minister, he will seek to improve infrastructure across the entire United Kingdom. From delivering full-fibre connectivity for every home to building an East-West high speed rail network across the North of England, his proposals can unleash the potential of the UK economy post-Brexit.
Finally, Boris understands how to make the case for free market economics to a generation who are naturally entrepreneurial but have been taken in by the fluffy veneer of socialism. By removing regulations, including those from the EU, that benefit established incumbents at the expense of new entrants, he can show how government intervention in the economy stifles competition. This in turn raises prices for consumers, disproportionately hitting those on the lowest incomes, and leads to fewer jobs and lower wages.
Brexit is not an end in itself. We could have a Brexit in which we liberalise the UK economy and lead the world in developing a new model of free trade. On the other hand, we could have Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10 – free from EU state aid rules – going further in nationalising industry and increasing state control. Boris not only needs to deliver Brexit. He must also implement an ambitious domestic policy agenda to make it a success.