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UK politics

Can Boris deliver on his promises?

Boris Johnson giving his conference speech yesterday. Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

The PM’s “full-throated roar of optimism” yesterday meant Boris fans went home happy, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. We have the fastest-growing economy among the West’s richest nations, according to the prime minister. A million jobs await the hundreds of thousands suddenly freed from furlough. There were digs at “seriously rattled bus conductor” Keir Starmer. There were booming tributes to “level-up flashdancer Michael Gove”: living proof the Tories are the “most jiving, hip, happening and generally funkapolitan party in the world”. This was vintage “Boris boosterism”. 

But “bouncy Boris” could not conceal the rocks below the surface: a Great Barrier Reef of national debt, surging inflation and labour shortages. Ministers fear Britain’s ballooning debt and the spectre of inflation running out of control. There are even – shock horror – more tax rises to come. Johnson protested that “Margaret Thatcher would not have ignored the meteorite that has crashed through the public finances”. But the PM’s adoring legions are starting to doubt him. Most voters have forgotten or never experienced the rampant inflation of the 1970s or interest rates hitting 15% on Black Wednesday in 1992. Ministers remember, though. Boris says “these are problems no government has had the guts to tackle before” as if he were leading a brand-new party. And in a way he is. That spells trouble. This time next year we won’t be cheering.