The British Prime Minister urged people to return to the workplace for ‘good career reasons’ in a rambling speech to the UK’s largest employer group, where he referred to Peppa Pig, makes car noise and lost his notes.
Boris Johnson told the CBI conference on Monday that ‘Mother Nature doesn’t like working from home’, adding to pressure from officials and business leaders to return staff to pre-pandemic work practices despite fears about the increase in Covid-19 cases this winter.
“There are people who think that work habits have been changed by the pandemic and that everyone will only work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. . .[but]I have doubts, “he said.” I prophesy that people will come back to the office. “
The ministers were keen to encourage people to return to offices in cities and town centers in order to stimulate local economies. Some executives are starting to worry that the number of returns to their offices has started to level off after an initial increase in September.
This year’s CBI conference is spread across different venues, with Johnson speaking at a venue in Newcastle. The Prime Minister’s sprawling speech saw him verify the name of a visit to Peppa Pig World, compare himself to Moses, and at one point lose his thread for 30 seconds.
Johnson has also sought to rebuild bridges with the business community, which is still angry after accusing companies of depending on cheap foreign labor last month.
Relations between Johnson and business leaders have been strained at times, not least because of his support for Brexit in 2016 against the wishes of many executives. In 2018, Johnson reportedly said ‘fuck business’ in response to concerns about a hard Brexit.
On Monday, he told the CBI he had “never been anything but the number one fan of business.”
But the PM was confronted with questions from audience members about the impending tax increases that will weigh on businesses, including an increase in national insurance and a corporate tax hike from 19% to 25%. in 2023.
“On corporate tax, on general corporate tax, don’t forget that we are still the lowest in the G7. . . Does the Chancellor want to go further and reduce the burden on taxpayers and businesses? Of course he does. But don’t forget we went through a pandemic where we had to take care of people to the tune of £ 407 billion, ”Johnson explained.
Johnson was also forced to defend his announcement last week that there would be deep cuts to the government’s rail program to save tens of billions of pounds.
The integrated rail plan, announced last Thursday, saw most of the eastern part of high-speed line 2 removed while a new line from Leeds to Manchester was decommissioned as a mix of new line and modernization of l old way.
Johnson told the conference he was disappointed with the reaction to his £ 96 billion rail investment plan. He said his “moral mission” was to tackle the “dismal” imbalance of productivity across the country and level the different regions.
But CBI boss Tony Danker told the Financial Times his members in the north were “very upset” by the reduction in investment in local services.
Simon Storer, CEO of the Insulation Manufacturers Association, said after the event: “What a disappointing session – nothing but fanfare and hot air.”
The Prime Minister gave an optimistic assessment of the UK’s economic outlook, saying unemployment was much lower than expected as Britain is expected to have the fastest growing economy in the G7.
“I remember mass unemployment, misery and the exhaustion of the human spirit,” he said, referring to the 1970s.
“I would much prefer to have our problems today which are fundamentally caused by a failure of global trust.”
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