05 October 2021

Tory grandee Davis urges Johnson to ‘seize the moment’ for Britain in key speech

05 October 2021

Boris Johnson has been urged to “seize the moment” by using his conference speech to show how Britain can exploit its post-Brexit “freedoms” and keep taxes low.

Conservative former cabinet minister David Davis suggested the Prime Minister should outline an economic strategy based on growth, which he hopes can ease concerns over the direction of party policy after the pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has told Tory activists he would only consider cutting taxes once the public finances are on a “sustainable footing” following the coronavirus crisis.

The Health and Social Care Levy Bill also is making its way through Parliament and will implement a £12 billion tax hike to fund services.

Mr Davis, speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, told the PA news agency: “I’m not happy about the high taxes.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

“Look, the conference is fun, people are happy being in Government.

“But everybody feels uncomfortable with high taxes, a large number feel uncomfortable with things like vaccine passports and that sort of stuff.”

He labelled the Covid regulations “meddlesome”, before adding: “We’re past the crisis, it’s going to be with us forever, we’ve got to learn to live with it.”

Asked what he wants to hear from Mr Johnson on Wednesday, Mr Davis said: “I want to hear we’re going to have an economic strategy based on growth.

“We’ve got horrendous borrowings, like every other country. In a way the fact that everybody’s got it is a sort of… not an opportunity, but it means strategies to deal with it are not going to cause money to flood out the country, because where else is it going to go?”

Mr Davis said money connected to the Covid pandemic – including the schemes to protect jobs and to help the NHS deal with the backlog – should be treated in a similar way to how debts connected to the two World Wars were paid off over a long period.

On balancing the books, Mr Davis added inspiration should be sought from Conservative former chancellor Nigel Lawson which leads to a “growth-based, low tax economy”.

Mr Davis urged the Tory leader to ‘seize the moment’ (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Davis went on: “We’ve still got to exploit Brexit and that’s how we do it.”

He added “lighter regulation, more purposeful regulation” should also be a feature, noting: “We should take that as an inspiration too.

“So those are the sorts of directions I want to see.”

Mr Davis added to Mr Johnson: “Seize the moment. He’s a great man for seizing the moment, that’s what I want to see from him.

“He always had a reputation before he was Prime Minister as a liberal Tory, he believes in freedom, and I want to see that.”

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