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“Levelling up”—why Boris Johnson can’t stop saying it and what he really means

Careful phrasing can lead people to support particular policies, invest in particular companies or even back foreign wars. What is the PM trying to achieve with his latest slogan? 

By Simon Lancaster  

Johnson gives a speech outside No 10. Photo Han Yan/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

In his New Year blog asking for “weirdos and misfits” to work in No 10, Dominic Cummings issued a call for communications professionals familiar with Robert Cialdini’s work on the psychology of persuasion. One of the first slogans he might get them looking at is “levelling up,” the new term for tackling regional disparities. It has appeared in every major speech by the prime minister since he took office but no one knows exactly what…

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