Broken Britain jibe haunts Boris Johnson's last days in Downing St

Outgoing leader stresses investments that are going to make the country fit for the future

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as he leaves a property following a drugs related raid by Metropolitan Police officers, in London, on August 31, 2022, as part of a visit to a police station.  (Photo by PETER NICHOLLS  /  POOL  /  AFP)
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Boris Johnson was taunted on Wednesday by questions over whether or not he was leaving office next week with Britain broken by the events of his three years in power.

Britain is “absolutely not” broken at the end of his premiership, he shot back at an early morning question at a south London police station, adding “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," he carried on.

“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.

Last month UK inflation surged above 10 per cent for the first time in four decades. The Bank of England forecasts that it will top out just above 13 per cent, although a surge in natural gas prices in recent weeks mean officials will almost certainly have to increase that forecast.

Citigroup says the peak will be above 18 per cent in January, while Goldman Sachs said a elevated period of high gas prices would leave the rate going up as high as 22.4 per cent.

The Prime Minister will leave office next week, handing power to either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak following the outcome of the Tory leadership contest. Rehearsing lines that will surely accompany his exit from the apex of power on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said the UK could demonstrate its strength in the months ahead.

“Why do people want to come here? Because it is the place to be," he said. “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.”

Boris Johnson's final week in office - in pictures

“We’ve got investments that we’re making in this country that are going to make it fit for the future,” he said.

“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 per cent coverage when I became Prime Minister to 70 per cent today.”

He said that because of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “we have pressures on the cost of living” but “we have the financial strength to get through them”.

“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,” he added.

The Government has also been unable to prevent thousands of people crossing the English Channel in small boats in an attempt to claim asylum in the UK – but Mr Johnson said that was “just a symptom of why this country is one of the most successful on Earth”.

Updated: August 31, 2022, 9:01 AM
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