BORIS Johnson used his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference to make a jibe about SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s croft.

The Prime Minister barely mentioned Scotland or the Union during his 45-minute speech, but couldn’t resist making a joke at Blackford’s expense when talking about broadband.

Johnson told delegates that when he became leader of the Tories only 7% of households had gigabit broadband, and claimed by the end of the year that will be 68%.

He said: “Thanks to Rishi’s superdeduction the pace is now accelerating massively.

“As companies thrust the fibre-optic vermicelli in the most hard to reach places.

“For years SNP leader Ian Blackford has been telling the Commons that he is nothing but a humble crofter on the Isle of Skye.

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“Now we have fibre optic broadband so good that we can inspect the library or is it perhaps the billiard room of Ian Blackford’s croft.

“And that is levelling up in action.”

It came as Johnson only made small references to Scotland and the Union, keeping in line with his policy of not talking about independence amid fears it makes the UK Government appear “needy” and only helps the Yes side.

Johnson said: “We will restore those sinews of the union that have been allowed to atrophy.

“The A1 north of Berwick and on into Scotland.

“The A75 in Scotland that is so vital for the links between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country.”

The only other mention of Scotland came when Johnson talked about COP26 being held in Glasgow at the beginning of next month.

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The Prime Minister also defended his National Insurance tax hike to pay for NHS and social care.

He said: “We have a huge hole in the public finances, we spent £407 billion on Covid support and our debt now stands at over £2 trillion, and waiting lists will almost certainly go up before they come down.

“Covid pushed out the great bow wave of cases and people did not or could not seek help, and that wave is now coming back – a tide of anxiety washing into every A&E and every GP.

“Your hip replacement, your mother’s surgery and this is the priority of the British people.”

The only policy announcement in the speech was a “levelling-up premium” worth up to £3000 to encourage science and maths teachers to head to different areas of the country.

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Johnson also urged people to go back to their offices and workplaces after working from home during the pandemic.

He said: “As we come out of Covid, our towns and cities are going to be buzzing with life because we know that a productive workforce needs the spur that only comes with face-to-face meetings and water cooler gossip.

“If young people are to learn on the job in the way they always have and must, we will and must see people back in the office.”

The Prime Minister also backed Home Secretary Priti Patel targeting environmental protestors, such as Extinction Rebellion.

He said: “You know those people gluing themselves to roads – I don’t call them legitimate protesters like some Labour councillors.

“I say they are a confounded nuisance who are blocking ambulances, stopping people going about their daily lives.

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“I’m glad Priti is taking new powers to insulate them snuggly in prison where they belong.”

He then criticised “lying, bullying, cowardly” men as he addressed violence against women and girls.

Johnson said: “On behalf of the entire Government, I tell you this: we will not rest until we’ve increased the successful prosecutions for rape.

“Because too many lying, bullying, cowardly men are using the law’s delay to get away with violence against women, and we cannot and will not stand for it.”

We previously told how Johnson ruled out making misogyny a hate crime as it would overwhelm the police.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown told MSPs on Tuesday that he did not agree with the Prime Minister, and is posed to “act swiftly” on the outcome of an independent misogyny working group report in February 2022.