Boris Johnson Promises Roosevelt-Style 'New Deal' To Ease Covid Crisis

UK prime minister channels president who led US out of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Boris Johnson has said he wants billions of pounds of government investment to help the UK to recover from the coronavirus pandemic as he promised a US-style “New Deal” for the country.

The prime minister will use a keynote speech in the West Midlands on Tuesday to say he wants to follow in the footsteps of US president Franklin D Roosevelt, who led the country out of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Johnson will say his message is “build, build, build” as the UK comes out of lockdown after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The PM will say the government intends to spend £5 billion “to accelerate infrastructure projects”.

He is expected to say: “It sounds positively Rooseveltian. It sounds like a New Deal.

“All I can say is that, if so, then that is how it is meant to sound and to be, because that is what the times demand – 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.

“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.”

Johnson will announce:

  • £1.5 billion to be allocated this year to hospital maintenance.
  • More than £1 billion for a 10-year school rebuilding programme.
  • £100 million to be spent on road projects.
  • £900 million for “shovel-ready” local growth projects in England during 2020/21.

Johnson is expected to 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.

Boris Johnson visits the construction site of Ealing Fields High School in west London.
Boris Johnson visits the construction site of Ealing Fields High School in west London.

“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.

“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.”

However, opposition MPs accused him of not offering any new ideas and trying to “hoodwink” voters with rehashed manifesto promises.

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman and party leadership contender Layla Moran said Johnson was offering nothing new.

She said: “Boris Johnson is attempting to hoodwink the nation again with reheated promises rather than seizing this moment to move forward as a country.

“This speech looks like a rehash of manifesto pledges with no real plan to deliver a greener and fairer future. It shows this government has already run out of ideas and run out steam.

“The prime minister also needs to realise that our infrastructure is human, not just bricks and mortar.

“We need a mass retraining programme and a cast-iron promise not to repeat the mistakes of the Thatcher years and leave entire communities behind.”


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