Conservatives to pledge billions toward “infrastructure revolution”
Chancellor Sajid Javid will pledge to invest £25 billion into improving Britain’s roads and an additional £5 billion for ultra-fast broadband in the “hardest to reach” areas of the country as part of a wider plan to revolutionise the UK infrastructure.
Javid is due to speak on the second day of the Conservative party conference, the opening day of which was marred by questions about party leader Boris Johnson and his conduct toward a female journalist back in 1999.
In his keynote speech to the party conference, Javid will announce upgrades to 14 major roads in England, including the A66 Trans-Pennine expressway, the A46 Newark bypass, the M60 Simister Island interchange in Manchester and the A12.
The £25 billion funding for the project, which will be delivered between 2020 and 2025, had been set aside as a “national roads fund” by Javid’s predecessor Philip Hammond.
An additional £5 billion will go toward improving other major roads.
Javid told the BBC that the funds came from taxes and borrowing, boosted by “record low interest rates”.
He said on BBC Breakfast: "We've got more people working than ever before, that means the public finances are strong”.
Javid is to warn that the benefits of the road investment “may not be felt for some time”, but will insist that the work must “start here and now”.
The chancellor is expected to reiterate a promise from his previous spending round to give a £220 million cash injection to the improvement of bus services in England, including £50 million toward generating the country’s first town or city based all-electric bus network.
The money will also go into improving bus lanes with a view to eventually creating a “superbus” network, a scheme which will be trialled in Cornwall next year.
Another target for the chancellor is to make contactless payment available on every city bus.
An investment of £5 billion will go into rolling out gigabit-ready internet and advanced mobile networks including 5G, with Javid now aiming to provide fast connection to the most isolated 20 per cent of the country.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the pledges showed a “real difference” between Labour and the Conservatives, adding that Tory promises fell short of the “fundamental shift of power and wealth from the few to the many” that Labour were promising.
Meanwhile, opposition MPs are in the House of Commons and will be discussing how to prevent a no-deal Brexit, having dismissed a motion to grant a three-day recess to accommodate the Tory party conference.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four, Labour shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said that opposition parties want to hear the prime minister’s plans for a deal with the EU and warning that they are “prepared and ready to respond” for what Downing Street announces next.
Ashworth added: “He [the prime minister] keeps saying that he wants a deal…but of course many of us suspect that he doesn’t actually want a deal”.