Boris Johnson today praised Peppa Pig World, compared himelf to Moses and made engine noises in a bizarre speech to business chiefs.
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.
Mr Johnson at one point extolled the virtues of Tesla cars, saying they were faster at accelerating from traffic lights than Ferraris. But he also attempted an impression of a traditional petrol engine, issuing a series of guttural sounds to confused delegates in South Shields.
Sticking with the environmental topic, the premier said that in future it would be as unacceptable to build a coal station as to light a cigar on an aircraft.
And 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 sat in awkward silence.
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
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.’
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’.
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.’
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
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.
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.’
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.’
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.’