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‘Geography is destiny’: Boris Johnson admits that UK economy ‘more unbalanced than any other major country’

15 Jul 2021 3 minutes Read
Boris Johnson delivering his levelling up speech

The UK has a more unbalanced economy than any other major country, the Prime Minister has said.

Making a speech on the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda in Coventry, Boris Johnson said that “for too many people, geography turns out to be destiny”.

He said that GDP in Wales was lower than in the former East Germany, which only reunited with the rest of Germany in 1990.

This was a result of former leaders investing too heavily in London and the South East to the detriment of other parts of the country, he said.

“We need to say from the beginning that before the pandemic began, the UK had and still has a more unbalanced economy than almost all our immediate biggest competitors in Europe,” he said.

“A more unbalanced than pretty much every major developed economy. And when I say unbalanced I mean that for too many people, geography turns out to be destiny.

“It is an outrage that a man in Glasgow or Blackpool has an average of 10 years less on this planet than someone growing up in Hart in Hampshire or in Rutland.

“It’s an astonishing fact that 31 years after German unification per capita GDP of the north-east of our country, of Yorkshire, of the east midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland is now lower than what was the former East Germany.

“Germany has succeeded in levelling up where we have not.

“Everybody knows that talent, energy and enthusiasm and flare are evenly spread across the UK. It is opportunity that is not.”

‘Expensive’

He said that previous governments had tended to invest in parts of the UK that were already successful.

“The tendency has been to hang around the goal mouth instead of being the playmaker,” he said.

“So you end up investing in areas where house prices are already high, where transport is already congested, and by turbocharging those areas, especially in London and the south-east, you drive prices even higher.

“And you force more and more people to move to the same expensive areas.”

Despite being accused by the Welsh Government of a hostile attitude to devolution, Boris Johnson said that the UK was also too politically centralised and needed more devolution.

He argued that England was too centralised and Whitehall was incapable of taking the right decisions to tackle the “glaring imbalances” across the country.

“This country is not only one of the most imbalanced economies in our neighbourhood, in the developed world, it is also one of the most centralised ones,” he said. “Those two defects are obviously connected.

“If you look at France and Germany, other European G7 economies, the level of productivity across their great cities is much more comparable.”

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Chris
Chris
3 months ago

Typical Tory tactic. Blame the people who came before.
Now if only he could lie about how much he cares about us WITHOUT simultaneously trying to bully us.
Bunter really is an appalling blob

Mike
Mike
3 months ago

It is interesting that Boris Johnson makes comparison with Germany and its success in uplifting the wealth of East Germany following reunification. An important factor being that many European nations have far less centralization with a federal system of government. Funds are equally distributed throughout regions or where a region is being left behind then there are more funds pumped into that area. This is in stark contrast to what is actually occurring with Boris Johnsons own government strategy where the deprived regions are receiving less funding post Brexit with the promised matching of previous EU funding falling well short.… Read more »

Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
3 months ago

First passed the post is the curse of the United Kingdom.

DarkMrakeford
DarkMrakeford
3 months ago

This has been a fact for decades, it’s not a recent phenomena and people know it.

Bruce
Bruce
3 months ago

Most (but not all) of this is the fault of the Tories, so if he’s so concerned about it why is he a Tory?

The truth is his weasel words aren’t worth the time of day.

Sian
Sian
3 months ago

He should also realise that the UK has one of the highest inequality gaps in the world between rich and poor. How long has his party been in government?

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
3 months ago

Drakeford told an anecdote today about rail. Since 2010 when the Tories came to power Wales has had less than 2% of the UK investment in rail infrastructure for a population of 4.7% of the UK and 11% of the rail miles.

He did not mention Grayling and the lack of electrification or the latest £4.8Bn of “levelling up” funds of which Wales is promised 0.2% for the 4.7% of people.

If Johnson really wants to begin addressing the beams in his own eye I would be amazed.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Every chance Fat Shanks will be in rehab before the summer is out…a room and a fridge and a delivery from Tanners every other day. Maybe No 10 will requisition No 6’s old place in Minffordd.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
3 months ago

I just don’t believe anything Boris Johnson says. Nothing more I could add.

defaid
defaid
3 months ago

Stop your populist, faux heart on sleeve, lying, dissembling BS, Bojo, and put your not-a-penny-worse-off replacement for EU funding where your mouth is.

Last edited 3 months ago by defaid
Nick Randall-Smith
Nick Randall-Smith
3 months ago

So Boris has found at atlas? Pity he didn’t look at it before he decided that the British and Irish Isles are not part of Europe.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
3 months ago

If he’s so concerned – why is he pushing for more centralisation? Why has he been attacking devolution? It’s all words in the hope of gaining more votes (primary reason) and not losing power over areas of the UK (Wales and Scotland gaining independence). The guy’s an opportunistic slimeball.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago

Fat Shanks reminds me more and more of Mr Punch drunk!

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
3 months ago

Somebody’s had a word in Johnson’s ear that if he continues with his assault on devolved government in order to restore the pre-1999 centralised state, he’ll eventually lose three countries of his little empire. Unless he’s had a crisis of faith and a damascene conversion, it’s unlikely he means aword of what he said in this speech.

Shan Morgain
3 months ago

Reading elsewhere Johnson is not proposing to match the federal systems of the other developed nations like Germany, Switzerland. He is envisaging all sorts of authorities, existing and new – mayors, Councils, business enterprise groups, etc. This will make a patchy mess of units which can then be submitted to good old Tory divide and rule. There is no plan to have a federal council to draw these chaotic units together to work together.

Jack
2 months ago

Yeah because nearly all the us and Canada and most of Europe have legalised cannabis taxed it regulated it and they it saves on court cost and puts money into the police education and improved health services and its cut crime it bring new jobs and opportunities and skills but this is England if we ever did do it won’t be while the pm is Boris even kno he’s addmited smoking weed it’s always one rule for them and one for all of use

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