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Boris Johnson today shrugged off questions about whether he is ‘OK’ today after a bizarre speech to business chiefs when he praised Peppa Pig World, compared himelf to Moses and made engine noises.

In a bewildering address to the CBI, the PM spoke at length about his family trip to the popular theme park – complaining that the TV character looks like a ‘hair dryer’ and Daddy Pig is a bit stereotyped.

Mr Johnson attempted an impression of a car engine as he extolled the virtues of Tesla cars, saying they are faster at accelerating from traffic lights than Ferraris. 

He invoked the Moses comparison by suggesting he had descended from ‘Mount Sinai’ to hand civil servants his 10-point plan for achieving Net Zero by 2050.

At one point Mr Johnson was left floundering after losing his place in his rambling speech, leafing through pages while the audience in South Shields sat in awkward silence.

Labour seized on the chaotic performance saying the ‘joke’s not funny any more’. And it could have more serious implications as Tory MPs have been increasingly frustrated over the government’s bungling on a range of issues.

One government source quipped wryly that Mr Johnson – who still appears to have a heavy cold – might have had ‘a bit too much Lemsip’. However, challenged afterwards, Mr Johnson said he thought it ‘went over well’. 

‘You lost your notes, you lost your place, you went off on a tangent about Peppa Pig – frankly, is everything okay?’ a reporter asked the PM. 

He replied: ‘I think that people got the vast majority of the points I wanted to make, and I thought it went over well.’ 

Mr Johnson triggered a torrent of sleaze allegations with an abortive bid to save ally Owen Paterson from punishment for lobbying earlier this month – the latest in a long series of U-turns.

He also risked inflaming a brewing revolt over his plans for social care this morning, insisting the proposed £86,000 cap is ‘incredibly generous’ despite criticism that most people will pay far more and poorer people will be hit disproportionately. 

The premier is known for his blustering style and comedic turns in speeches, but there have been concerns he has overstepped the mark recently – including a ‘tumbleweed moment’ when he quoted Kermit the Frog while addressing the UN on climate change. 

His Tory conference speech was also criticised for being light on policy and heavy on gags, such as saying he wanted to ‘Build Back Burger’ by boosting beef exports to the US. 

In a bewildering address to the CBI, the PM hailed his family trip to the popular theme park - despite complaining that the TV character looks like a 'hair dryer' and Daddy Pig is a bit stereotyped

In a bewildering address to the CBI, the PM hailed his family trip to the popular theme park - despite complaining that the TV character looks like a 'hair dryer' and Daddy Pig is a bit stereotyped

In a bewildering address to the CBI, the PM hailed his family trip to the popular theme park – despite complaining that the TV character looks like a ‘hair dryer’ and Daddy Pig is a bit stereotyped

Pictures have emerged of Mr Johnson, wife Carrie and son Wilf at Peppa Pig World in the New Forest yesterday

Pictures have emerged of Mr Johnson, wife Carrie and son Wilf at Peppa Pig World in the New Forest yesterday

Pictures have emerged of Mr Johnson, wife Carrie and son Wilf at Peppa Pig World in the New Forest yesterday 

Hamming it up: Toe-curling moments from PM’s speech to CBI 

PEPPA PIG 

Mr Johnson kicked off his extended riff on Peppa Pig by taking a straw poll of the audience for who had been to the theme park in the New Forest. 

When only a few business chiefs put up their hands, Mr Johnson – who still seems to be suffering a heavy cold, said: ‘Not enough.’

‘I was a bit hazy as what I would find at Pepper Pig World but I loved it. Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place. It has very safe streets, discipline in schools, heavy emphasis on new mass transit system I noticed – even if they are a bit stereotyped about Daddy Pig.

‘But the real lesson for me going to Pepper Pig World was about the power of UK creativity. 

‘Who would have believed, Tony that a pig that looks like a hair dryer or possibly a Picasso-like hair-dryer, a pig that was rejected by the BBC, would now be exported to 180 countries with theme parks both in America and in China as well as in the New Forest.

‘A business that is worth at least £6billion to this country… I think that is pure genius, don’t you? No government in the world, no Whitehall civil servant would have conceivably have come up with Peppa.’ 

LOSING HIS PLACE 

As he was in the middle of talking about broadband upgrades, Mr Johnson appeared to lose his place in the text of his speech.

He furiously leafed through pages for more than 20 seconds, cursing under his breath and repeatedly saying ‘forgive me’.

Business chief sat in awkward silence as the premier tried to get back on track. 

ENGINE NOISES 

The PM said he expected environmentally-friendly technology to ‘accelerate like a new Tesla’, recalling his time as a motoring writer for GQ magazine. 

‘I can tell you as a former motoring correspondent, EVs may not burble like sucking doves and they may not have that Rrrum Rrrum raa raa that you love, but they have so much torque that they move off the lights faster than a Ferrari,’ he said. 

WFH 

Mr Johnson said: ‘I know there are some people who think that working habits have been remade by the pandemic and that everyone will be working only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in an acronym I won’t repeat.

‘I don’t want to be dogmatic about this but I have my doubts. There are sound evolutionary reasons why mother nature does not like working from home. I prophesy people will come back to the office and they will come back on the roads and the rail.’

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Mr Johnson kicked off his extended riff on Peppa pig by taking a straw poll of the audience for who had been to the theme park in the New Forest. 

When only a few business chiefs put up their hands, Mr Johnson said: ‘Not enough.’

‘I was a bit hazy as what I would find at Pepper Pig World but I loved it. Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place. It has very safe streets, discipline in schools, heavy emphasis on new mass transit system I noticed – even if they are a bit stereotyped about Daddy Pig.

‘But the real lesson for me going to Pepper Pig World was about the power of UK creativity. 

‘Who would have believed, Tony that a pig that looks like a hair dryer or possibly a Picasso-like hair-dryer, a pig that was rejected by the BBC, would now be exported to 180 countries with theme parks both in America and in China as well as in the New Forest.

‘A business that is worth at least £6billion to this country… I think that is pure genius, don’t you? No government in the world, no Whitehall civil servant would have conceivably have come up with Peppa.’ 

As he was in the middle of talking about broadband upgrades, Mr Johnson appeared to lose his place in the text of his speech.

He furiously leafed through them for more than 20 seconds, cursing under his breath and repeatedly saying ‘forgive me’.

The PM said he expected environmentally-friendly technology to ‘accelerate like a new Tesla’, recalling his time as a motoring writer for GQ magazine. 

‘I can tell you as a former motoring correspondent, EVs may not burble like sucking doves and they may not have that Rrrum Rrrum raa raa that you love, but they have so much torque that they move off the lights faster than a Ferrari,’ he said. 

Mr Johnson said his ‘levelling-up’ agenda was a ‘moral mission’ as well as a necessary move for the economy.

The Prime Minister said achieving his goal would help the UK become a bigger economy than Germany.

‘It is a moral mission and as you get older I find the funny thing is you get more idealistic and less cynical,’ he told the CBI conference in South Shields.

‘It’s a moral thing but it’s also an economic imperative. Because if this country could achieve the same kind of geographical balance and dispersion of growth and wealth that you find in most of our most successful economic comparators, and if all our businesses could reach more balance in their levels of productivity, then there would be absolutely no stopping us and we would achieve – what I believe we can – and become the biggest and most successful economy in Europe.’ 

He acknowledged there were ‘chronic problems’ underlying the UK economy, including the imbalance between firms which were ‘go-getting world-beaters’ and the ‘long comet tail’ of businesses which lacked the necessary skills and investment to boost productivity.

Mr Johnson, who set out plans to boost the number of electric vehicle charging points, said the green industrial revolution meant ‘fate has handed us an opportunity’ to reshape the economy.

The PM said that electrification will be the key to the new ‘green’ industrial revolution.

‘Lenin once said the communist revolution was Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country,’ he said in his keynote address to the CBI annual conference.

‘The coming industrial revolution is green power plus electrification of the whole country. We are electrifying our cars, we are electrifying our rail.’

Mr Johnson at one point attempted an impression of a traditional petrol engine, issuing a series of guttural sounds to confused delegates in South Shields

Mr Johnson at one point attempted an impression of a traditional petrol engine, issuing a series of guttural sounds to confused delegates in South Shields

Mr Johnson at one point attempted an impression of a traditional petrol engine, issuing a series of guttural sounds to confused delegates in South Shields

At one point Mr Johnson was left floundering after losing his place in his rambling speech, leafing through pages while the audience sat in awkward silence

At one point Mr Johnson was left floundering after losing his place in his rambling speech, leafing through pages while the audience sat in awkward silence

At one point Mr Johnson was left floundering after losing his place in his rambling speech, leafing through pages while the audience sat in awkward silence

Mr Johnson seemed to be enjoying himself at Peppa Pig World with his family yesterday

Mr Johnson seemed to be enjoying himself at Peppa Pig World with his family yesterday

Mr Johnson seemed to be enjoying himself at Peppa Pig World with his family yesterday

Britain is a ‘branch line’ economy, warns CBI chief

Parts of the UK have been neglected over decades, leading to a ‘branch line’ economy, according to a leading business group.

The CBI said delivering economic growth across the country will be the determining factor in whether the Government’s levelling-up agenda will be a success.

Director general Tony Danker said clusters of economic activity will have to be created or built on, in different parts of the UK.

He told the opening day of the CBI’s annual conference that the UK has had to live with the consequences of offering little more than ‘benign neglect’.

With the most productive parts of a sector, such as head offices, too often based in London and the South East, the UK is operating as a ‘branch line economy’, he argued.

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At the same time, Mr Johnson said the country could not afford to neglect the road network as people returned to the office following the pandemic.

‘We cannot be endlessly hostile to road improvements. We have to fix it now,’ he said.

‘I know there are some people who think that working habits have been remade by the pandemic and that everyone will be working only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in an acronym I won’t repeat.

‘I don’t want to be dogmatic about this but I have my doubts. There are sound evolutionary reasons why mother nature does not like working from home. I prophesy people will come back to the office and they will come back on the roads and the rail.’

Mr Johnson delivered a rebuke to UK firms, saying they were ‘way down’ the list compared to rival countries when it came to investing in research and development.

The Prime Minister told the CBI conference: ‘Why don’t UK businesses invest in that way? It’s one of the key reasons for our relative lack of productivity.’

The Government has already put in place a ‘super deduction’ tax break for capital investment but ‘maybe there are other incentives we can give’.

But he added: ‘Maybe it’s a cultural thing. People have got to understand that if you want to have a long-term success for your business, if you want to keep ahead of the game, you want to keep innovating, then you have got to invest, and I think that’s a message that everybody needs to grasp.’

Taking a question about improving infrastructure links to the North East after his speech, the PM said: ‘I must say that I thought, as a lesson in what happens when you tell the British people we’re investing £96billion in the biggest railway programme for 100 years, some of the coverage was missing the point, let me put it that way.

‘So, Birmingham to Newcastle is 40 minutes quicker under the IRP; from Newcastle to London will have 20 minutes shaved off because of the upgrades to the East Coast Mainline.

‘You are mad as a railway enthusiast, which I am, to think that you always have to dig huge new trenches through virgin countryside and villages and housing estates in order to do high speed rail.

‘If we’d done Crossrail like that, we couldn’t – we had to use lots of existing line.

‘So, Northern Powerhouse Rail will have about 40 miles of new high speed line from Warrington to Marsden but they can speed up the rest by electrification and other improvements. And that’s how you get the massive gains that are going to come.’

Shadow minister Wes Streeting pointed out that the speech came after the sleaze debacle and amid rows over social care and dropping parts of the rail upgrade for the North. 

‘Boris Johnson’s speech to the CBI is as shambolic as his Government,’ he tweeted. ‘No wonder Tory MPs are worried.’ 

Mr Johnson said the Government’s proposals for reform of the adult social care system in England are ‘incredibly generous’.

The Government is facing a potential backbench revolt amid claims the plan is now less generous than it appeared when it was first published in September.

Speaking at the CBI annual conference in South Shields, Mr Johnson strongly defended the plans.

‘These are incredibly generous and they are much better than the existing system,’ he said.

‘Under the existing system nobody gets any support if they have assets of £23,000 or more. Now you get support if you have £100,000 or less, so we are helping people.

‘It is in fact more generous than some of the original proposals of Andrew Dilnot because it helps people not just who are in residential care but also people who benefit from domiciliary care as well.

‘We are finally tacking a problem that has bedevilled this country for decades, been very, very unfair on people who have got dementia or Alzheimer’s and been forced to face catastrophic, ruinous costs for that care when somebody who has cancer or some other affliction does not.

‘We are addressing a long-standing social injustice and it will benefit the people of this country.’

Boris Johnson insists social care reform is ‘incredibly generous’ despite minister’s admission people might STILL have to sell homes – as furious Tories threaten vote revolt 

Boris Johnson insisted his social care reforms were ‘incredibly generous’ today as he faced his latest backbench Tory rebellion from MPs furious that the £86,000 costs cap is being watered down.

The PM is on collision course with his backbenchers again as he tries to push through an amendment that will make poorer pensioners pay more towards their bills – and potentially hit northerners harder than those who live in the south.

The government says it would cost an extra £900million a year to include council contributions in the cap calculations.  

But former Cabinet ministers and Red Wall MPs are among those threatening to defy the whip on the crucial issue.

And the architect of the original proposals, Andrew Dilnot, accused ministers of addressing ‘catastrophic’ costs for the better off – but not for those who are not so wealthy. 

But appearing at the CBI annual conference in Tyneside today, Mr Johnson insisted the new system was an improvement on what is in place currently.

‘It is in fact more generous than some of the original proposals of Andrew Dilnot because it helps people not just who are in residential care but also people who benefit from domiciliary care as well,’ he said.

‘We are finally tacking a problem that has bedevilled this country for decades, been very, very unfair on people who have got dementia or Alzheimer’s and been forced to face catastrophic, ruinous costs for that care when somebody who has cancer or some other affliction does not.

‘We are addressing a long-standing social injustice and it will benefit the people of this country.’

It came as a minister admitted people may still have to sell their homes to pay for care. Paul Scully told Sky News: ‘There will be fewer people selling their houses and hopefully none … I can’t tell you what individuals are going to do.’

Although outright defeat for Mr Johnson looks unlikely given his 80-strong majority, it represents a further flashpoint with his restive party.

The premier is still struggling to quell anger over the sleaze debacle triggered by his abortive effort to save ally Owen Paterson from punishment for lobbying. 

Source: Daily Mail UK

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