Prime Minister vows to invest in skills and training on Batley visit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to level-up the country and invest in skills and training on a visit to one of Batley’s biggest employers.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 5:10 pm
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 5:12 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Fox's Biscuits factory in Batley with Ryan Stephenson, the Conservative candidate in the upcoming Batley and Spen by-election. Photo by Mike Simmonds

Mr Johnson visited Kirklees College’s Pioneer Higher Skills Centre in Dewsbury before spending two hours at Fox’s Biscuits meeting management and helping on the production line.

The Prime Minister, dressed in Fox’s famous white coveralls, helped pack biscuits – and ate one or two - and met some of the firm’s 900-strong workforce.

Mr Johnson and Batley and Spen Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson were told about Fox’s apprenticeships and training and afterwards the Prime Minister said: “We want to unite and level up.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson chats with teachers in the arts and design area during a visit to Kirklees College in Dewsbury. Photo: Getty Images

“We are investing in policing and skills and we want to see people with dreams and imagination able to fulfil them. One of the difficulties in our country is that there is talent everywhere but opportunity not.

“Levelling up is about what’s taking place between towns and cities within regions. You will find pockets of deprivation and under-achievement all over the country.

“I was just at Kirklees College and we are putting money into further education because if there’s one thing that makes a difference to people’s lives, that’s it.

“I love universities. I believe passionately in them. They are one of the great glories of the UK.

"Skills are the one thing that can transform people’s lives. I don’t think we put enough into them and we are going to put a lot more in.

"The one thing I want to see in Batley is skills.”

Mr Johnson said people now wanted their lives back on track and an end to the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccinations was the way to achieve it.

“The things that are important to people are getting our economy moving again, getting our society open again, getting our lives back on track and beating Covid,” he said.

“And the way to do that is to vaccinate. I want to say a big thank you to the Al-Hikmah Community Centre here in Batley that I visited not long ago. They have done an outstanding job.

“We know that one of the big issues in the country is that some groups have been slower than others to come forward. These guys have done a bang up job and I really thank them and you can see the numbers rising.

“I want to thank the people of Batley and Spen for the outstanding way they are getting the vaccinations. We want to see the numbers of people being vaccinated going higher and we will be opening up the economy in a pretty comprehensive way and also society once again.”

On the lighter side, Mr Johnson described his visit to Fox’s as a “personal pilgrimage” because his long-time PA Ann Sindall used to work there.

“Ann Sindall, to give her a name check,” he said. “The wonderful Ann Sindall.”

Asked about his favourite biscuit, he replied: “Deep water! I had better take the Fifth Amendment.

“My favourite biscuit I had today was a Fox’s jam and cream I think it’s called. It was terrific.

"Unfortunately, I was pictured eating it in a very messy way, the jam exploded all over me. Anyway, it was very good.”