With more jokes than policies, Johnson shrugs off crisis

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 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s speech to Conservative Party Conference was always a must-see event for the delegates. They could expect the full Boris - faux unpreparedness, frequent hair ruffling and gags at the Tory leadership’s expense. Everyone left feeling better about themselves.

But life is harder when you’re at the very top. Even his hair is a little thinner than it once was. There were still jokes - largely at Michael Gove’s expense. And some unJohnsonian realism about NHS waiting lists.

But mostly, it was a speech about the high productivity, high wage economy the Prime Minister wants to build, albeit - with a Budget and Spending Review to come - little on how we might actually get there.

And on the day that the Universal Credit cut came into effect - what the Resolution Foundation calls the biggest ever overnight benefit reduction - and as natural gas prices jumped another 30 per cent - making real wage rises the centre of your policy offer feels a bold move.

For more analysis (but not until you’ve reached the end of today’s newsletter), check out the Leader podcast, in which I chat with the Standard’s Deputy Political Editor, David Bond, from what sounded like a hotel kitchen in Manchester, about the policies (or lack thereof), jokes, and whether Starmer or Johnson had the better week.

And if all you really want is a video of Liz Truss and Michael Gove dancing at Conservative LGBT+ party, my friends you are in luck.

In the comment pages, Ayesha Hazarika writes that we’ve got to learn that education, education, education must be at the heart of levelling up.

Meanwhile, Tom Newton Dunn suggests that Johnson’s real problem is he is competitive but no one’s challenging him.

And finally, London Cocktail Week is upon us. So the capital’s best bartenders teach David Ellis and Jochan Embley the five pillars of the only cocktails that matter.

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