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Boris Johnson interview: 'Investment will flood into West Midlands' after Brexit

By Peter Madeley | Politics | Published:

Boris Johnson has claimed that investment will "flood" into the West Midlands after Brexit as he backed the region to thrive under a new Tory government.

The Prime Minister meets locals on Queen Street in Wolverhampton

During a visit to the Black Country the Prime Minister said the region was key when it came to getting Britain's economy moving, but warned: "It won't really start until Brexit is done."

In an interview with the E&S he denied the Tories had lurched towards the hard right under his leadership, touting himself as a champion for the "poorest and neediest".

He said the whole country would benefit from a "dynamic", post-Brexit economy, and vowed to address high unemployment in areas such as Wolverhampton.

WATCH: Boris Johnson interviewed in Wolverhampton

Boris Johnson interviewed at the Express & Star

He said Jeremy Corbyn had become a "puppet" in Labour's election campaign, describing shadow chancellor John McDonnell as "the really dangerous one".

Mr Johnson also pledged to root out prejudice of all kinds in his party, and insisted his spending plans on police, the NHS and education were not aimed at reversing the effects of austerity.

The Prime Minister was in Wolverhampton as a guest of Stuart Anderson, the Tory candidate for Wolverhampton South West.

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He attended the Armistice Day commemorations in St Peter's Square, where he laid a wreath on the cenotaph, at an event which was also attended by city Labour candidates Emma Reynolds and Eleanor Smith.

He also popped into the Lych Gate Tavern where he pulled a pint and chatted with veterans and regulars.

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His visit coincided with Nigel Farage's announcement that the Brexit Party would not stand candidates in seats which the Tories held from 2017.

Boris Johnson with Wolverhampton Tory leader Wendy Thompson and parliamentary candidate Stuart Anderson

Mr Johnson welcomed the move, saying it was "recognition" that another gridlocked hung parliament was the "greatest threat" to delivering Brexit.

Investment

And he insisted the West Midlands will see huge investment on the back of his Brexit deal.

"We are getting behind improvements in cutting edge industries and battery technology in the West Midlands," he said.

"We want to help start-ups here and get the economy really moving. But it won't really start until Brexit is done.

"That is when the investment will flood in. All international investors are waiting for us to move this thing forward."

Mr Johnson in the Lych Gate Tavern in Wolverhampton where he pulled a pint

Asked if the Conservatives had become a 'hard right' party under his leadership, the PM said: "It is not a description I recognise at all.

"We are is a government that believes passionately in bringing the country together and in 'one nation' policies such as investing in the NHS and education.

"Look at what we are doing with the living wage. It's the biggest ever increase, putting it up to £10.50. We are working for the poorest and neediest in society."

WATCH: PM at Wolverhampton Armistice Day service

Boris Johnson attends Remembrance Day service in Wolverhampton

Turning his attentions to the Labour Party, Mr Johnson said the country could not prosper without a "dynamic economy", which Mr Corbyn would wreck by "whacking up taxes on business and his crazed plan on renationalisation".

"The truth is John McDonnell is the really dangerous one," he said. "This is a guy who was sacked by Ken Livingstone in the 1980s for being too left wing.

"He is the puppeteer. He is increasingly strong in that party."

'Ian Austin is a sensible guy'

Mr Johnson praised former Labour MP Ian Austin, who last week stood down from Parliament and urged voters to back the Tories.

"Ian is a sensible guy," he said. "His actions show that Labour has sadly been captured by a group of very hardcore London leftists who I believe would be terrible for the country."

Mr Johnson was speaking to Peter Madeley

The PM said Labour's continuing efforts to block Brexit had stopped the UK from moving forward.

"I think the effect of the referendum on this country has not been particularly harmonious," Mr Johnson said.

"We really need to get together and move on.

"If we do it right it is a massive opportunity for the country. It is also the right thing to do because people voted for it. It's democracy."

Mr Johnson chatting with local Labour MPs Emma Reynolds and Eleanor Smith

Mr Johnson said the next Tory government would be making "a big infrastructure investment", but conceded that some areas of the country had lagged behind others in terms of prosperity.

"I have seen what is happening in Wolverhampton," he said. "There are many success stories here, but unemployment is an issue that concerns me.

"The best way forward is to get our economy really motoring. It has such pent up potential. There is huge investment aiming to come into the West Midlands, if only we can get Brexit over the line.

"We have been held back by Parliament, by Jeremy Corbyn who won't get Brexit through. Once we get Parliament working for the country then people will see a huge boost to the economy."

Stamping out prejudice

The PM also addressed criticism of his party's approach on tackling cases of Islamophobia.

He said: "I do think everybody in politics needs to work to stamp out prejudice, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism.

"We are dedicated to doing that in the Tory party, and if you look at the spread of our candidates I am proud to say they are drawn from everywhere.

"We are adopting Muslim candidates for safe seats and we have got the first Muslim chancellor in the history of this country."

Mr Johnson attended the Remembrance Day service in Wolverhampton city centre

Mr Johnson has this week unveiled a range of measures to help armed forces veterans, including wraparound childcare, guaranteed job interviews and tax cuts for businesses that employ veterans.

He also made a manifesto pledge to prevent veterans from being prosecuted over killings that took place during the Troubles.

Asked if this was the equivalent of an amnesty, he said: "No it's not. Clearly people mustn't commit crimes during the course of their service, and there have been some cases where people have gone much too far and deserve to be prosecuted.

"This is intended to draw a line under things when there is no new evidence, and to give people serving in our armed forces just a bit more confidence and protection.

"Contrast that with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, who would like to ban our armed services and wishes we were like Costa Rica.

"I'm a peaceful man, I don't want us to be engaged in wars all the time, but we do need strong armed services."

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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