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Johnson demands Britain 'Build, build, build' to beat COVID-19 slump

9 Comments
By William James

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to shake Britain's economy out of its coronavirus-induced crisis on Tuesday by fast-tracking infrastructure investment and slashing property planning rules.

As Britain emerges from lockdown, Johnson is looking to move past criticism of his government's handling of the pandemic with a plan to repair the economic damage and reshape the country.

"We cannot continue simply to be prisoners of the crisis," Johnson said. "We must work fast because we've already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP and we know that people are worried now about their jobs and their businesses."

His message, delivered at a college in the central English town of Dudley, was overshadowed by the announcement of a new lockdown in Leicester, just 50 miles away, where COVID-19 infections are surging.

Nevertheless, with an exhortation to "build, build, build", Johnson announced plans to speed up government infrastructure spending and cut through the red tape around planning to make property development easier..

"We will build the hospitals, build the schools, the colleges. But we will also build back greener and build a more beautiful Britain," he said.

Promising not to cut spending, he compared his plan to former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1930s "New Deal" program, which included job-creating public works projects to help the United States recover from the Great Depression.

"It sounds like a prodigious amount of government intervention, sounds like a new deal...If that is so, then that is how it's meant to sound," Johnson said.

Tuesday's headline spending announcement of 5 billion pounds ($6.13 billion) amounts to around 5 percent of gross public sector investment last year. Most had already been announced and is only being spent sooner than planned.

Kate Forbes, finance secretary for the devolved Scottish government, was among those questioning the size of the investment.

"Germany announced a stimulus package of 4% of its GDP. The equivalent for the UK would be £80 bn. So, not only is £5 bn eye-wateringly short of a 'New Deal', it falls short of other countries too," she said in a tweet.

The 5 billion pounds of accelerated investment will be made up of projects including hospitals, schools and roads. Finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce further details next week.

Britain's recent history shows that big infrastructure projects are difficult to deliver.

A new underground train line in London is over budget and late, as is a north-south high speed rail link. After decades of discussing airport expansion at London Heathrow, the project remains mired in legal challenges.

"The key now is to ensure that these projects get off the ground as a matter of urgency," manufacturing trade body Make UK said.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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9 million claiming unemployment.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"We cannot continue simply to be prisoners of the crisis," Johnson said. "We must work fast because we've already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP and we know that people are worried now about their jobs and their businesses."

His message, delivered at a college in the central English town of Dudley, was overshadowed by the announcement of a new lockdown in Leicester, just 50 miles away, where COVID-19 infections are surging.

More mixed messages from a government. How are people supposed to build, build, build when they are barely allowed within a few feet of each other?

Just the other day the mayor of Leicester expressed skepticism about the severity of the pandemic is his city, so the government slaps him down with a lockdown.

Guess there won't be much building in Leicester for a while.

I thought it would be hard for governments to take duplicity to a new level, but they push the boundaries every day.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The idiot also said, 'Britain should clap not just to show appreciation for NHS workers, but also “wealth creators, capitalists and financiers”'

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Not sure about financiers, but what's wrong with celebrating the people who create wealth?

Despite the popular leftie image of wealth creators as fat old geezers wearing a monocle and top hat and chomping on a cigar while perched upon a pile of cash and gold, wealth creators are also the hard-working men and women in medium and small businesses who provide jobs. Without these people, how are you going to put food on the table and have a decent standard of living? And many other are the people who make the stuff the NHS uses to provide their services.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Useless!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yes the 5 billion quid expenditure announced for infrastructure looks rather pathetic compared to other European countries because the EU heavily subsidizes infrastructure development. Briton simply cannot commit to 'Spend Spend Spend' because it simply cannot afford to out of the EU.

Lets face it, in reality 5 billion pounds doesn't actually build you many schools, hospital or roads for the whole nation. Doh!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Palpably false"

That man is a guignol

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The cost of the Covid-19 is more than £350 billion.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In Scotland to deal with the costs of COVID-19 they are thinking of doubling house taxes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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