Who can tell me “which three nations have produced more than 100 tech unicorns?” said the Prime Minister.
“America, China and us.”
“Correct.” The answer was too quick. Boris was hoping it would buy him enough time to work out what page he was on.
The Prime Minister put the speech aside. Time to wing it. This is why the Tories chose him. This is what he was born to do – turn base metals into gold, turn disaster into Shakespeare. Time to roll the dice.
“Hands up who’s been to Peppa Pig World?”
A few hands. “Not enough. I was hazy about what I’d find at Peppa Pig World, but I loved it. [It’s] my kind of place. It has very safe streets. Discipline in schools… But the real lesson for me – I’m surprised you haven’t been there – is the power of UK creativity. Who would’ve believed that a pig that looks like a hairdryer… would now be exported to 180 countries, with theme parks in America and China and the New Forest?… No civil servant would conceivably have come up with Peppa.”
Yup. Nailed it. History, philosophy and one-in-the-eye for whatever Whitehall idiot printed off this speech in the wrong order. Later that day, the leader of the Opposition – can’t remember the name – went on and on to the same audience about jobs and techno-hoo-ha, but all they’ll be talking about on the evening news is the hairdryer pig, which is a win for the Prime Minister and, in a way, a win for the CBI too – because otherwise this conference would barely have scraped Newsnight.
“How will you support innovation?”, asked a woman in the question and answer session afterwards. “We have boot camps for entrepreneurs,” replied the Prime Minister. An MP texted to say: “Lenin built a few of those, too.”