Boris Johnson hails tea exports to India on election campaign trail

Aditi Khanna

London, Nov 18 (PTI) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson singled out tea exports to India as a sign of the strength of his Conservative Party-led government’s business and trade policies during a major speech on Monday on the campaign trail for the December 12 General Election.

Addressing the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual conference in London, Johnson tried to hard-sell his Brexit agreement in order for the UK to leave the European Union (EU) within the January 2020 deadline and provide businesses the certainty they have been demanding.

'Business today, industry today is doing extraordinary things in this country, dominating in the 21st century sectors from batteries to bioscience with record investments, record exports - tea to India; you know the story, tea to India, cake to France, TV aerials to Korea, boomerangs to Australia,' said Johnson, in one of the key campaign speeches aimed at winning over business and industry.

'We have a deal that is ready to go, just add hot water, stir in pot, it's there… this deal gives business complete stability and certainty about the arrangements that we have with our friends and partners in the EU as we make the transition in January,' he said.

'All we need is nine more seats and we can deliver Brexit in January,” he said, stressing on his mission to achieve a Tory majority in the House of Commons to get his Brexit deal through.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who also addressed the CBI conference to lay out the Labour Party’s business policies, attacked the Conservative Party’s Brexit strategy and claimed only a Labour-led government would address the growing social inequalities in UK society.

'I’m afraid that despite what he has said this morning Boris Johnson’s sell-out deal won’t end the damaging uncertainty and it won’t get Brexit done. It will subject us to years of drawn-out, bogged-down negotiations,” said Corbyn.

'It’s sometimes claimed that I’m anti-business. That is complete nonsense. It’s not anti-business to be against poverty pay. It’s not anti-business to say the largest corporations should pay their taxes just as smaller companies do,' he said.

'It’s not anti-business to want prosperity in every part of our country and not only the City of London,” he said, in an attempt to counter his image among business and industry as being too much in favour of state-ownership and nationalisation.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson made her party’s pitch to the conference as the “natural party” in favour of business and industry by being opposed to Brexit altogether.

She said: “We believe that any form of Brexit, whether it’s hard or soft, blue or red, will be bad for jobs, business and our public services.

'We believe that being part of one of the most successful economic blocs in the world is the best guarantee we can have for the future success of our businesses and of our country. We believe that our best future is as members of the European Union.” The CBI, as the UK’s key industry body which claims to speak for 190,000 businesses, is on the record with its pleas for a Brexit deal that does not hit supply chains and access to labour adversely.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn addressed all the main political parties on the issue with a message that business held many of the keys to the future of the UK - and whichever party is in power, business and government must form a “determined partnership”.

“But it [partnership] must be about getting beyond the divisions and working together. About evidence over ideology. Profit with purpose. Long-term solutions to long-term problems. All underpinned by the right Brexit outcome,” she said. PTI AK NSA