From Rt Hon Simon Hart MP <[email protected]>
Subject The Final Push...
Date October 9, 2020 6:45 PM
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I was sitting in a makeshift studio in Canary Wharf earlier this week, when the PM strolled in...

Nearly two stone lighter - with a big smile and hair as striking as ever - there was a spring in his step. You don’t have to be a Boris Johnson fan to see that he is determined to outwit this vicious viral opponent.

We were getting ready for the 'union slot' which immediately preceded the PM’s own speech at the virtual conference . Camera angles and mic positions were perfected, before he was whisked off for a coffee while Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland had our say.
In his speech, the PM made a big point of his own exasperation with Covid and its effect on every aspect of our lives. Students and teachers, businesses and charities, theatre-goers and actors, parents and grandparents. A devastated family. A ruined business. A career cut short or a relationship damaged. We have all felt its unwelcome presence.

But for a man who got as close to being another tragic victim as anyone would want, Boris also struck a note of optimism. The scientific knowledge regarding Covid is far better than it was in March. Treatments have improved and our search for a vaccine produces more results each day. Despite inevitable glitches, our testing systems are ploughing through millions of people and helping to curtail localised spreads. Our financial interventions may not have been able to save every job or every business, but they have been a lifeline for millions.
The obstacles we face are not unique to Britain. Other countries seen as exemplars in their responses have wrestled with technical, practical, medical and economic uncertainties. In other words, of course we are not perfect - but who is when combatting an invisible and previously unknown enemy?

And on that cautious note of optimism, we are sticking to our guns when it comes to the economic recovery - even with the Treasury squeezed from every corner. We cannot tax our way back to economic health. Getting people back to work through a private and public sector recovery is the driver.
That means West Wales as much as West London - 'levelling up' is the new battle cry. Striking the balance between economic activity and public safety was never going to be easy. Nobody revels in restricting people’s liberty, so the quicker we can get to the other side the better. Whether a holiday business, food outlet, high street shop, charity or farmer, normality is the goal. No more plastic barriers or face masks. No more 10pm curfews.

We are entering a different phase. What the Generals used to call the 'final push' may just be getting closer...

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