British Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets during a visit to the works of the Dudley Institute of Technology, UK. June 30, 2020. Jeremy Selwyn / Pool via .
By William James
LONDON, Jun 30 (.) – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged on Tuesday to lift the country’s economy out of the coronavirus crisis, accelerating investment in infrastructure and relaxing property planning rules.
As the UK emerges from confinement, Johnson is trying to overcome criticism of his government’s management of the pandemic with a plan to repair economic damage and reform the country.
« We cannot simply remain prisoners of the crisis, » Johnson said. « We must work fast because we have already seen the dizzying drop in GDP and we know that people are now concerned about their jobs and businesses. »
His message, delivered at a university in the English city of Dudley, was clouded by the announcement of a new confinement in Leicester, just 80 kilometers away, following an increase in the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by virus.
Still, urging the British to « build, build, and build, » Johnson announced plans to accelerate government spending on infrastructure and cut red tape to facilitate real estate development.
« We will build hospitals, colleges and universities, but we will do it greener to build a more beautiful UK, » he said.
Johnson compared his plan to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s « New Deal » in the 1930s, which included public works projects that created jobs to help the United States recover from the Great Depression.
« It sounds like an unusual degree of state intervention, it sounds like a ‘New Deal.’ (…) If so, then this is how it should sound, » he said.
The announcement of a £ 5bn ($ 6.13bn) expenditure made before the speech represents about 5% of gross public sector investment last year. Most have already been announced and are only getting ahead.
($ 1 = 0.8153 pounds)
(Additional report by Elizabeth Piper, Guy Faulconbridge and Andy Bruce; edited in Spanish by Jose Elías Rodríguez)