PM’s ‘green industrial revolution’ to support great many jobs

Johnson seeks to calm Downing Street chaos and make investment in midlands and north

 10 Downing Street: Britain plans to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 and produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the country by then. Photograph:  Tolga Akmen

10 Downing Street: Britain plans to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 and produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the country by then. Photograph: Tolga Akmen

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Boris Johnson will attempt on Wednesday to reset his government after a week of chaos in Downing Street when he outlines a “green industrial revolution” promising to support hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Britain will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 and the plan promises to produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the country by the same year.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, the prime minister framed the plan as part of his government’s “levelling-up” agenda aimed at directing investment towards the midlands and the north of England.

“Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the northeast, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future,” he said.

Devolution comments

Wednesday’s announcement will be Mr Johnson’s first policy initiative since the departure of senior aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain from Downing Street last week. The prime minister is self-isolating in his Downing Street flat after a Conservative MP he met last week tested positive for coronavirus.

In a video call on Monday night with backbenchers from the so-called Red Wall seats the Conservatives won from Labour last December, Mr Johnson assured them that his commitment to shifting resources out of London was undiminished. But his message was overshadowed by reports that, in answer to a question about devolving powers to regions in England, he said devolution in Scotland had been a disaster and “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake”.

Downing Street did not dispute the reports but said the prime minister was criticising the performance of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in government at Holyrood rather than devolution itself.

“The PM has always fully supported devolution, and this government continues to put the union at the heart of all that we do. Now, more than ever, is the time for the United Kingdom to be pulling together to focus on defeating this virus,” the prime minister’s official spokesman said.

Argument for independence

As Scottish Conservatives rushed to affirm their support for devolution, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, seized on the prime minister’s remarks as an argument for independence.

“Worth bookmarking these PM comments for the next time Tories say they’re not a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament – or, even more incredibly, that they support devolving more powers. The only way to protect and strengthen the Scottish Parliament is with independence,” she said.

  Labour, which opposes Scottish independence, said that devolution was one of the party’s proudest achievements and accused Mr Johnson of endangering the union.

 “This confirms that Boris Johnson doesn’t believe in devolution and would put the future of the United Kingdom at risk,” shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said. “His government should have been working in partnership with the devolved governments during this crisis. Instead, people across the UK have been paying the price for his failings.”