Boris Johnson's keynote conference speech on Wednesday - however entertaining - showed he's as cavalier with economic reality as he is with political pledges and international treaties.

The man is a ticking timebomb: only time will tell what sort of economic wasteland we will inhabit in Wales when he is finally consigned to history.

In the run up to the conference, Mr Johnson appeared strangely detached from reality. He seemed unaware of the mounting HGV driver crisis about which he was long warned; and was totally wrong-footed when Andrew Marr asked about a pig-slaughter. "Crisis? What crisis?"

Johnson's objective of establishing a high-wage economy equally enjoyed by those living away from south-east England is laudable, if it's fairly shared and is economically and environmentally sustainable.

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Boris Johnson is an intelligent person but one must ask whether he appreciates economic reality. He wants a high-wage economy in which people aspire to be teachers, nurses, care-providers, fruit-pickers, lorry drivers - because they are all well-paid jobs.

Great! But Mr Johnson doesn't spell out how this is to be achieved. It can't be based on wishful thinking. He was accused of having a "not a particularly constructive approach" by leading Tory businessman Lord Wolfson.

Higher employee wages can be funded by people working harder, working longer hours, working more effectively (through capital investment) or by redistributing existing resources – from shareholder dividends, from spending on research, from retained profits, by lower corporate taxation or less community benefaction.

The National Wales: Boris Johnson. Photo: PABoris Johnson. Photo: PA

One key to a higher-wage economy is to release resources which are currently under-utilised. These include underused land. The initiative by the Welsh Government in introducing a 'vacant land tax' to encourage the release of such land for productive use is a valuable step. This could bring significant long-term benefit: but it doesn't deliver higher wages tomorrow.

The danger is Boris Johnson's higher-wage initiative will be funded by printing money, the Alice in Wonderland escape route into which post-1918 Germany fell, with hyper-inflation opening the door to Adolf Hitler.

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Perhaps Boris Johnson sees inflation as the only way to pay back the huge public sector debt which has built up over the Covid crisis. Such an approach is fundamentally dishonest – paying back the UK's debt with funny-money printed for the purpose. It will undermine certain sectors and creates entirely the wrong climate for long-term industrial investment on which sustainable higher wages depend.

Over recent years, we have lived in a low-interest economy. That's been very attractive for house buyers who have secured low-interest mortgages. The flip side is the way it has driven up house prices.

When interest rates climb back – as the government prints money and triggers inflation – then large mortgage-holders will be crucified. My generation remembers mortgage rates of 15% around 1990; and the house repossession orders that followed.

The Prime Minister's cavalier conference speech secured him the standing ovation which he craved. But those people who cheered him may feel very differently when his promises unravel and we all see the shocking image: that, economically speaking, Emperor Johnson has no clothes.