The Prime Minister’s speech to business leaders has been criticised by other political parties and a survey on leadership has given insight on how leaders should behave.

Boris Johnson lost his place for what has been described as ‘an awkward 21 seconds’, while speaking at the CBI Conference. 

The Prime Minister has been accused of coming across as incompetent and chaotic during the 25 minute speech.

Leadership study

A study by PSI Talent Management found only 55 percent of employees felt that the quality of leadership in their organisation was effective or very effective.

Dan Hughes is Head of International Research and Development at PSI Talent Management. He said: “The role and attributes of leaders continue to be debated and reviewed. Changes around expectations of leaders have been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the impact of leaders on the employee experience, in terms of motivation, engagement and wellbeing”.

Regarding Mr Johnson’s speech, Lib-Dem leader Ed Davey said: “Businesses are crying out for clarity. Instead, all they got was Boris Johnson rambling on about Peppa Pig.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor meanwhile, called it “shambolic”.

She said: “No one was laughing, because the joke’s not funny anymore.”

CBI Response

Tony Danker, CBI Director-General, responded to the official transcript (below) and said:

“If we are serious about going for growth, then 2022 has to be a year of detail and delivery.”

In his speech at the conference, Mr Danker called for economic growth to be spread evenly across the whole of Britain, rather than distilled in the south east of England.

He also said that “levelling up” could not be left to the free market and added “high-valued” sectors, firms and jobs were needed across the UK.

Boris Johnson insisted levelling up was still his “moral mission” and an “economic imperative”.

Labour’s Criticism

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s speech criticised the autumn budget saying the Conservatives had “missed an opportunity to remake Britain”.   

He outlined what he called the five fiscal rules that he said the next Labour government would follow. 

Sir Keir also told the CBI conference that if elected, his government would ensure  made fiscal discipline and investment into skills became a priority. 

He called for a ‘sector by sector plan’ saying: “This is our side of the contract – to run a stable government and a tight ship, to equip the next generation for work, to invest in British business and to create a wave of high-skilled jobs.”

CBI praises EV plans

Mr Danker, meanwhile, said he was pleased to hear that the Prime Minister wanted to prioritise business investment. He also praised Mr Johnson’s plans for 145,000 new EV charging points with the scheduled regulations for new homes to have car charging capabilities.

He said: “The UK has an opportunity to lead the world in the race to net zero. By making decarbonisation one of our economy’s big bets for growth, we can create the high value sectors, firms, skills and investment needed to level-up the economy.”

However, he warned that it is important for the government not to alienate the North after the decision to cancel the eastern leg of HS2.

Mr Danker said: “With many business leaders in the North still feeling bruised by last week’s decision on HS2, that spirit of partnership must kick into gear straight away so that Government, local leaders and businesses are able to find a better way forward to address those places that missed out.”


Prime Minister’s official speech at the CBI Conference in Tyneside:

Great to be here in Tyneside, the number one exporting region of the UK. Great to be with the CBI. And I want to begin with a massive thank you to British business. For keeping going. For looking after your employees. For rising to the challenge. For responding to the call for ventilators in those first dark days. Dozens of you, Kitchen appliance makers, Hairdryer makers, Formula one motor car manufacturers.

Turning your production lines over in days to try to save lives.For making the masks and the gowns and the gloves at such speed. Turning things round from that awful moment when we realised we simply didn’t have the domestic production.

So we have gone from being able to supply 1 per cent of our domestic needs to 80 per cent. And thank you British industry, enterprise, commerce, for producing not just one but perhaps half a dozen vaccines.

Because without you, let’s face it, we would simply not be here.

And nor would tens of thousands of people in our country and millions around the world, who owe their lives to your resourcefulness and inventiveness. And while I’m on the subject, can I ask who has had your booster?

You all look far too young and thrusting to need a booster but get your booster as soon as you can because it is by vaccinating our country that we have been able to get your staff back to their place of work, to open our theatres, our restaurants and to get back for longer now than any other comparator country to something like normal life; even if we are still bumping elbows and wearing masks.

I am not going to pretend that everything is going to be plain sailing – we can see the state of the pandemic abroad, the supply chain issues that we’re facing, the pressure on energy prices that we’re all facing, the skills shortages.

But don’t forget, folks, my friends, it was only last year they were saying we would have an unemployment crisis now on the scale not seen since the 1980s or 1990s. They were forecasting 12% unemployment.

And what have we got? Thanks to you – thanks to the resilience of British business – we have employment back in work at pre-pandemic levels. It was only last year that we experienced the biggest fall in output in a century as we were forced to lock down the economy.

So my final message to you, as we stand on the brink of this green industrial revolution and we prepare to use our new regulatory freedoms in what I believe will be a very strong post-Covid rebound, we are blessed, we are blessed not just with capital markets and the world’s best universities and incredible pools of liquidity in London and all the … the right time zone and the right language and opportunity across the whole country, we are also blessed with the amazing inventive power and range of British business. And that, above all, is what fills me with confidence, members of the CBI, for the days ahead.

Thank you very much for your kind attention this morning, thank you.”