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Boris says ‘we cannot be prisoners’ to coronavirus as he announces plan to rebuild economy

Boris Johnson riding a digger (left) and Boris Johnson making a speech

Boris Johnson has unveiled a plan to get Britain back on its feet (Picture: AP)

The Prime Minister has said the UK ‘cannot be prisoners’ to coronavirus as he unveiled plans to boost Britain’s economy.

He admitted it seems ‘a bit premature’ to talk about a post-Covid plan when the disease is still spreading across the country. But in a speech this morning at Dudley College of Technology Boris Johnson stressed the need to get Britain back on its feet an ‘unleash the potential’ of the ‘entire country’.

Part of the ‘new deal’ unveiled the PM includes a £5 billion project for infrastructure projects. He also promised to spend £1 billion on rebuilding schools over the next decade with construction expected to start on the first 50 sites from September 2021.

It comes after the UK economy shrank at the fastest pace since 1979 in the first quarter of 2020 as many businesses were ordered to close their doors during the coronavirus lockdown. Johnson said: ‘We must work fast because we’ve already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP.’

With a pledge to ‘build, build build, the PM announced plans to speed up government infrastructure spending and ‘scythe through red tape’ around planning to make property development easier.

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He added: ‘We will not be responding to this crisis with what people would call austerity. We’re not going to cheese-pare our way out of trouble. Because the world has moved on since 2008.’

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‘I believe in building people up: giving everyone growing up in this country the opportunity they need. Whoever you are, whatever your ethnicity, whatever your background, and there are certain things that are indispensable for that opportunity: the hospital you’re born in, the schools you go to, the safety of the streets where you grow up.

‘And this Government has not forgotten that we were elected to build 40 new hospitals – and we will. Matt Hancock is setting out the list in the next few days, and that is just the beginning.’

Johnson also said the Government would not ‘wait’ to fix the problems in social care, and said plans were being finalised. He added: ‘It’s time that the system recognised that talent and genius are expressed as much by hand and by eye as they are by a spreadsheet or an essay.’

Referencing figures which suggest a pupil from a London state school is 50% more likely to go to a top university than one in the West Midlands, he said: ‘That is not only unjust – it is such a waste of human talent. We will unleash the potential of the entire country.’

More to follow.

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