Q: What is your message to Tory MPs thinking of rebelling over social care?
Johnson says the new scheme is “much more generous” than the previous scheme.
And he claims it is “very, very progressive”.
He says under the current system people get no support unless they have assets worth £23,000 or less. Now people with up to £100,000 will get help from the state, he says.
And he says the creation of a cap should allow a market in social care insurance to develop. (At the moment it is not feasible for insurers to offer cover, because their potential costs are unlimited.)
And that’s it. The Q&A is over.
Q: You have been conciliatory to business today. But why won’t you address the unfairness facing energy intensive industries.
Johnson claims he has always been conciliatory towards business. He says he has given pro-business speeches to the CBI for years.
On greening the economy, he says that cannot be done by government alone.
Johnson claims social care plans ‘incredibly generous’
Q: You have rowed back on what was originally promised on the rail plan for the north, and you have a social care plan that will disproportionately hit people in the north. Are you going back on levelling up?
Johnson says “it’s not a rowing back, it’s better”. The rail plan will have an impact 10 years earlier than the original proposal. “It is a colossal plan,” he says, and it will deliver “fantastic commuter benefits in real time”.
On social care, he says the new system will be more generous than what was originally planned. It will be “incredibly generous”, he claims.
And in some respects it is more generous than the plan originally proposed by Dilnot, he says.
Johnson is now taking questions from the press. Simon Jack, the BBC’s business editor, goes first.
Q: How can you describe your policies as business friendly?
Johnson defends the integrated rail plan. He says he categoricially rejects the suggestion the rail investment has been set back. It is transformatory.
On business tax, he says corporation tax or business tax is still the lowest in the G7.
The government would like to lower taxes. But racking up unsustainable debt is not right, he says.
Q: You talk about innovation and skills. What can you do to promote this?
Johnson says universities are getting into the habit of setting up hubs, to work with business on “ideas that can change the world”. He says it is one of the glories of this country that we have so many world-class universities. They are getting better at working with business, he says.
Q: What can we do to unleash more investment?
Johnson says he was talking to the chancellor about this just last night.
He says the UK is a long way down the international league table for business investment in research and development. He says businesses should take a different approach.
Johnson says the great resource of the 21st century will be data.
If smaller companies were as good at this as bigger companies, that would take you a long way to levelling up, he says.
Q: The east coast mainline does not have enough capacity now. Are you committed to improving rail links between areas in the north?
Johnson says he is. He says some of the coverage of the integrated rail plan last week was “missing the point”. He says it was a £96bn plan (although much of that sum had been committed before). He quotes figures for how it will cut journey times.
Q: [From Sage, a technology company] Will you commit to putting enterprise and entrepreneurship at the heart of the levelling up agenda?
Yes says, Johnson. He says entrepreneurship is a massive part of what he is doing.
He says levelling up will have to be driven by startups. The government has boot camps for entrepreneurs, he says.
Johnson is now praising Peppa Pig World, which he described as “my kind of place”. There are very safe streets, disciplined schools, and mass transit systems, he says.
But he says he likes it most as a tribute to UK creativity. Who would have thought that a pig looking like a hairdryer could become a global brand, he says.
And that’s it. He’s finished the speech, but is now taking questions.
Even by Boris Johnson’s standards, this speech has been unusually rambling. But at one point Johnson, who is using a paper script and not a teleprompter, completely loses his place. He goes silent for what seems like an age, but is probably only about 10 seconds, before finding his place and ploughing on.