Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks of South Tyneside's role in 'green industrial revolution' as he opens annual CBI conference at Port of Tyne in South Shields

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed South Tyneside’s role in a ‘green industrial revolution’ at a speech in South Shields – though it was his bizarre remarks about Peppa Pig which got most people talking.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 4:22 pm

The PM was at Port of Tyne to open the CBI conference 2021, where he spoke alongside CBI director general Tony Danker, the PM described levelling up as a ‘moral mission’ and also spoke on the power of British industry and the importance of net zero.

The Port unveiled the Tyne Clean Energy Park in 2021 as a base for the region’s renewable energy industry, only months after it was announced the Port was selected as Equinor’s flagship operations and maintenance base for what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm at Dogger Bank

Mr Johnson said: “British companies are responding to the green industrial revolution. Here in the North East, Nissan has decided to make an enormous bet on new electric vehicles and together with envision there is now a massive new gigafactory for batteries.

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Boris Johnson shuffling his papers during the 2021 CBI annual conference, held at The Port of Tyne, South Shields. Picture by FRANK REID

"Look at the coast of the North East where we are today, row after row stretching out into the North Sea of beautiful white mills as we claim a new harvest, rich and green, from the meadows of Dogger Bank.”

The Prime Minister said achieving his goal would help the UK become a bigger economy than Germany.

“It is a moral mission and as you get older I find the funny thing is you get more idealistic and less cynical,” he said

“It’s a moral thing but it’s also an economic imperative.

Tony Danker, Director General, CBI listens to Boris Johnson speaking during the 2021 CBI annual conference, held at The Port of Tyne, South Shields. Picture by FRANK REID

"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.”

Matt Beeton, Chief Executive Officer of Port of Tyne, said: “Thanks to a highly collaborative approach, working with businesses and organisations in the region, the North East is ideally placed to become Britain’s heartbeat of the Country’s drive towards net zero, not just locally, but nationally.

“People will remember the huge impact on the country our shipbuilding had, our coal mining had, our railway engineering. Many of those industries have gone, but in their place is springing up the new generation of industry – new technologies, clean and renewable energy, electric vehicles, engineering and innovation to drive the country forward.

During the speech, the PM made some bizarre comments, saying: “Yesterday I went, as we all must, to Peppa Pig World. I don’t know if you’ve been to Peppa Pig world, who’s been, hands up anyone who’s been to Peppa Pig World? Not enough."

Boris Johnson speaking during the 2021 CBI annual conference, held at The Port of Tyne, South Shields. Picture by FRANK REID

"I loved it and Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place. It has very safe streets, discipline in schools, heavy emphasis on new mass transit systems, even if they’re a bit stereotypical about Daddy Pig

Speaking after the session, Mr Johnson said he thought his speech “went over well” despite criticisms for losing his place and talking about the children’s TV character.

After being questioned by ITV on whether “everything was OK”, Mr Johnson said: “I think that people got the vast majority of the points that I wanted to make and I thought it went over well.”

The PM had also made an unlikely reference to Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin in his speech.

“Lenin once said the communist revolution was Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country,” he said.

“The coming industrial revolution is green power plus electrification of the whole country. We are electrifying our cars, we are electrifying our rail.”

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