Saying it is not too soon to begin planning for the post-COVID-19 economy, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tuesday pledged to invest more than $17 billion in the country’s education system and $6.13 billion for infrastructure investment.
Speaking at Dudley College of Technology in central Britain, Johnson acknowledged it might seem premature to discuss a post-COVID future in light of recent surges of the virus in the nation and elsewhere in the world. But he maintained that Britons cannot continue to be “prisoners of this crisis.”
Comparing his plan to former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” programs of the 1930’s designed to lift the United States out of the Great Depression, Johnson pledged to “build, build, build” and speed up government plans for new schools, hospitals and road repair.
Johnson renewed a campaign pledge to build 40 new hospitals in Britain, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock releasing the list of new buildings in the next few days. He also pledged to continue and step up funding for the National Health Service and “fix the problems of social care that every government has flunked for the past 30 years.”
Noting the economic downturn driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson said, “We must work fast, because we know that people are worried about their jobs and their businesses.”
As Johnson spoke of the post-COVID economy, the reality of the pandemic was evident in the British city of Leicester, where a spike in coronavirus infections prompted the government to reinstate a lockdown. All the city’s schools and non-essential shops were forced to close, fewer than two weeks after they had been allowed to reopen.