Boris Johnson vows Government will ‘build, build, build’ its way out of coronavirus crisis as he unveils ‘New Deal’ for Britain
The PM will argue that the “times demand” a round of interventionist economic policies.
Boris Johnson will promise to “build, build, build” Britain’s way out of the coronavirus economic crisis as he unveils a “New Deal” investment plan for the country.
The Prime Minister will use a major speech in Dudley on Tuesday to tip his hat to the late US president Franklin D Roosevelt, who kicked off a programme of the same name to help America recover from the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Making clear that he believes the UK economy — which shrank by a record 20% in April as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold — faces a similar scale challenge, the PM will promise a “positively Rooseveltian” recovery plan focused on jobs and infrastructure investment.
Saying that the “times demand” a round of interventionist economic policies, Mr Johnson will promise to lead a government “that is powerful and determined and that puts its arms around people at a time of crisis”.
“This is a government that is wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades,” he will say.
“To build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK. To unite and level up.
“To that end we will build build build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.”
Mr Johnson will confirm that the Government is bringing forward £5bn worth of investment projects in a bid to aid the UK’s economic recovery, including a £1.5bn package for hospital maintenance and expansion.
He will pledge £100m this year for 29 road projects, including bridge repairs and A-road upgrades, as well as £10m for rail in Manchester.
Mr Johnson on Monday announced a £1bn boost to school and further education building programmes, while the Government is also promising £142m to upgrade courts; £83m for prison maintenance — and £900m for a raft of local growth projects in England over the next two years.
Talking up an “infrastructure revolution”, the Conservative leader will say: “Too many parts of this country have felt left behind, neglected, unloved, as though someone had taken a strategic decision that their fate did not matter as much as the metropolis.
“And so I want you to know that this government not only has a vision to change this country for the better, we have a mission to unite and level up - the mission on which we were elected last year.”
Mr Johnson is also expected to flesh out plans to boost the Government’s environmental credentials, with a pledge to create thousands of new jobs through new conservation projects and launch a 75,000 tree-planting pledge.
Number 10 said he would also use the speech to “announce action to support jobs and skills”, a promise that comes after the PM pledged to guarantee all young people an apprenticeship if they want one.
And, seeking to take on concerns about the public finances, Downing Street said: “While in the long-term the government must set a path to balance the books, the Prime Minister is clear that we will not do so at the expense of investing now in the productive potential of the economy, or at the expense of the resilience of the UK’s public services.”
Mr Johnson will say: “If we deliver this plan together, then we will together build our way back to health.
“We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward – stronger and better and more united than ever before.”
But Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: "Unemployment has climbed to its highest level in a generation, and our country is suffering the worst economic hit of all industrialised nations.
"But instead of the Back-to-Work Budget our country needs focusing on one thing - jobs, jobs, jobs - the Chancellor will only be providing an 'update' on the economy."
The Labour frontbencher added: “We urgently need the Conservatives to abandon their 'one-size-fits-all' approach to the economic support schemes, which will inevitably lead to additional unemployment.
"And we need concrete action and a laser-like focus preventing further job losses and supporting future employment.”