The Conservative Party has published its 2019 manifesto, outlining its plans for the UK should it win the general election.
Brexit, specifically the party’s message of ‘Get Brexit done’, takes centre stage in the Conservative manifesto.
There are also commitments for extra funding for the NHS and an Australia-style points-based immigration system.
But what does the Conservative manifesto have to offer on the technology front? Verdict has compiled all of the key Conservative manifesto technology pledges. Where appropriate, we have provided the Conservative’s plan for paying for new technology policies, based on its separate costing document.
Boris Johnson had originally promised full-fibre broadband by 2025, but has now opted for gigabit speeds instead, following industry criticism.
The manifesto outlines a plan to provide gigabit broadband access for “every home and business” by 2025. By offering one gigabit per second or more, the Conservative manifesto states that it “will make it easier for businesses to operate” and provide a boost for remote workers.
Paying for it: The broadband upgrade falls under the Tories’ ‘National Infrastructure Strategy’, along with other investments in areas such as rail and roads. It puts the total cost for these at £100bn and will “set out further details of how this sum will be divided up” in the next Budget. The Conservatives claim that £5bn of new public funding for gigabit broadband is “already promised”.
The Conservative manifesto pledges £1bn for “completing a fast-charging network” for electric vehicles. The aim is to “ensure that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid electric vehicle charging station”.
As part of an investment in “superbus networks”, the Conservative Party says it will “invest in electric buses, developing the UK’s first all-electric-bus town”.
The manifesto also briefly mentions that the party will “build on Britain’s pioneering work in electric and low-carbon flight” and a “gigafactory” for making electric car batteries.
The party says it will “consult on the earliest date” it can phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
Paying for it: The £1bn for a fast-charging electric vehicle network falls under the £100bn set aside for infrastructure. No direct costing breakdowns are provided for the other electric vehicle policies.
The State of Technology This Week
To help meet its target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the Conservative manifesto says it will invest £500m to “help energy-intensive industries move to low-carbon techniques”.
It aims to ensure that UK offshore wind will “reach 40GW by 2030”, although it does not expand on this.
The party pledges £800m to “build the first fully deployed carbon capture storage cluster”, a broad term for technologies that can remove almost 100% of the carbon dioxide from energy-intensive industries and fossil fuel power. It states this will be deployed by the “mid-2020s”.
There are also mentions of supporting gas for hydrogen production and nuclear energy, including fusion.
The Conservatives have committed to a temporary ban on fracking.
Paying for it: The £500m investment falls under the Conservatives’ ‘Industrial Energy Transformation Fund’ and is spread across an eight-year period. The £800m for carbon capture is in a separate fund and spread across three years. It will also use the £1bn Ayrton Fund towards developing clean energy.
The Conservative manifesto describes artificial intelligence as “one of the ‘grand challenges’ that will define our future”.
There are no specific pledges for the artificial intelligence sector, but the Conservatives say they will “focus our efforts” on industries of the future, which include “computing, robotics and artificial intelligence”.
The manifesto also mentions giving the police new technologies such as “biometrics and artificial intelligence…within a strict legal framework”.
The manifesto states the party plans to invest “more in cybersecurity” and will create a “new national cybercrime force”.
It says that police will be given “new technologies” such as artificial intelligence and biometrics to help combat online crimes.
The Conservatives say they will “legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online”.
This involves “protecting children from online abuse and harms, protecting the most vulnerable from accessing harmful content, and ensuring there is no safe space for terrorists to hide online”.
The manifesto also states the party will review the Gambling Act with a “particular focus on tackling issues around loot boxes and credit card misuse”.
The Conservatives say they will “extend contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing to almost 200 more stations in the South East”. It claims that this will mean 50% of all rail journeys and “almost all London commuter journeys” will be possible using only a contactless bank card.
It also mentions more “smart ticketing”, but does not expand on this.
Paying for it: There is no direct costing for expanding contactless rail payments, but it is likely to fall under the £100bn planned spending on UK infrastructure.
Cloud computing and data
The manifesto states the Conservatives will “increase the tax credit rate to 13% and review the definition of R&D” to incentivise investment areas such as “cloud computing and data”.
Technology not mentioned in the Conservative manifesto
The Conservative manifesto made no mention of some of the emerging technologies that have drawn the most attention this year, such as 5G, blockchain, cryptocurrency and quantum computing.
Read more: Labour manifesto: Technology pledges in full