As part of his farewell tour, outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed that the UK is one of the most successful countries in the world and has the financial strength to get through the cost of living crisis.
Ahead of his successor being named on Monday, Johnson said investments are making the UK “fit for the future” and that the UK would make it through the current “pressures” on living standards.
Johnson defended his economic legacy with the UK facing soaring energy prices, double-digit inflation, and the economy heading into a potentially prolonged recession.
He was asked whether the UK is “broken” as he leaves Number 10, responding: “Absolutely not. This country has got an incredible future and has everything going for it.
“Look at the place that people want to invest in. Which is the country that attracts more venture capital investment now than China? It’s the United Kingdom.
“Which country has, I think, more billion-pound start-up tech companies than France, than Germany, than Israel put together? It is the United Kingdom.
“Why do people want to come here? Because it is the place to be.
“What we’re doing now, and what I’m proud that we’ve done over the last three years or so, is put in a lot of things that will make this country fit for the future.”
Johnson will finally leave office on Tuesday, replaced by either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, once the outcome of the Conservative Party leadership election is announced.
Speaking at an event outside a police station in Lewisham, he pointed to “unemployment at record lows” and “investment coming to this country on the scale we’ve never seen before”, saying:
“We’ve got investments that we’re making in this country that are going to make it fit for the future.
“I’m talking about three new high-speed lines: the biggest rail investment for more than 100 years.
“Investment in gigabit broadband: giving people access to 21st-century communications. Fantastic progress from 7% coverage when I became Prime Minister to 70% today.”
Johnson also said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine meant “we have pressures on the cost of living” but “we have the financial strength to get through them”, adding:
“What we’re also doing is making sure that we have the long-term British energy supplies that we need to get our people through.”
In response, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned about the impact of soaring energy prices which could leave those earning up to £50,000 a year struggling to make ends meet.
He told Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine: “I think if you’re on fifty grand, you’re going to really struggle with £4,000 on your energy bills.
“I think there will be many people watching who accept ‘I’m not the hardest-up, I’ve got a decent wage, but £4,000 on my energy bills is more than I can afford’.”