Boris Johnson describes 'levelling-up' as a 'moral mission' while on visit to South Shields
Boris Johnson has said his "levelling-up" agenda was a "moral mission" as well as a necessary move for the economy.
"It is a moral mission and as you get older I find the funny thing is you get more idealistic and less cynical," he told the CBI conference in South Shields.
"It's a moral thing but it's also an economic imperative. Because if this country could achieve the same kind of geographical balance and dispersion of growth and wealth that you find in most of our most successful economic comparators, and if all our businesses could reach more balance in their levels of productivity, then there would be absolutely no stopping us and we would achieve - what I believe we can - and become the biggest and most successful economy in Europe."
He acknowledged there were "chronic problems" underlying the UK economy, including the imbalance between firms which were "go-getting world-beaters" and the "long comet tail" of businesses which lacked the necessary skills and investment to boost productivity.
Mr Johnson, who set out plans to boost the number of electric vehicle charging points, said the green industrial revolution meant "fate has handed us an opportunity" to reshape the economy.