DUDLEY will hopefully go down in history as the birthplace of post-Brexit Britain.
The West Midlands town was the venue for Boris Johnson to deliver one of the most important speeches of his premiership: A vivacious, impassioned and specific pledge to spend billions and show the Tories are serious about levelling up the country.
Project Speed, as the PM dubbed it, “will unleash the potential of our entire people”.
Priorities include building more homes, investing in education, cracking down on crime by recruiting more cops, making Britain greener and more beautiful, and improving our safety by tackling terrorists and foreign criminals.
The “neglected and unloved” parts of the UK outside of “the metropolis” are now at the heart of the government’s plan, a nod to the dismantling of Labour’s traditional red wall at the last election.
He also pledged not to shirk from the social care crisis like successive governments have.
Who could disagree with any of that?
Alongside those social promises a “high risk, high reward” infrastructure revolution will back innovative, forward-looking projects. That’s a line straight from the Dominic Cummings playbook. And by the way, unlike everyone else in the media, I mean that as a positive thing.
A £5 billion post-Covid cash injection will add to the £34 billion already granted to the NHS, £14 billion to education and, of course, £100 billion to infrastructure
While these plans were broadly spelt out in the Tory election manifesto, they’re being sped up thanks to the coronavirus crisis which has seen the economy on a cliff edge but provided the ability to borrow big with low interest rates.
That’s why the PM is right when he said: “We must use this moment now – this interval – to plan our response”.
There was the right degree of humility regarding certain aspects of the corona response, with an admittance that parts of government had responded “so sluggishly” it was like a “recurring bad dream”.
There was also a brief nod to his predecessors like David Cameron and George Osbourne. Such vast spending, he said, is only available to him because of the “prudent” financial management of the past decade.
But we can all let out a sigh of relief at his insistence there will not be a return to dreaded austerity because “the world has moved on since 2008”.
Pleasingly, Boris made it clear what side of the fence he is on when it comes to the toxic culture wars when he said: “I don’t believe in tearing people down anymore than I believe in tearing down statues that are part of our heritage, let alone a statue of our greatest wartime leader. I believe in building people up.”
But he needs to follow his instinct and cut taxes to spark the economy too.
Overall this mission to unite and level up the country should be embraced by those on all sides of politics.
The time for talk is over now and “the government is going to get on and do it”.
That is what Boris will be judged on in the end.