Boris Johnson prepares for economic recovery as local restructuring begins

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday promised an “infrastructure revolution” inspired by the American “New Deal” to revive an economy hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Build, build, build”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday (June 30th) promised an “infrastructure revolution” inspired by the American “New Deal” to revive an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced a first local reconfiguration.

Despite its decision to close non-essential shops and schools in Leicester, in the center of England, the Conservative government remains determined to restart activity in the rest of the country, the most bereaved in Europe by the Covid-19 with more 43,000 dead.

“Build, build, build”

After putting on a construction helmet on a construction site, Boris Johnson developed his vision to lift the economy from the abyss, with a plan of five billion pounds (5.5 billion euros) in infrastructure investments summed up by its slogan: “Build, build, build”.

“It sounds like a New Deal (…) because that is what the times demanded: a strong and determined government that puts its protective arms around the people in times of crisis,” he said in reference to the so-called “New Deal” policy of Franklin D. Roosevelt which had made it possible to revive the American economy through demand and state intervention after the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“This moment gives us a much greater opportunity to be radical and to do things differently,” he said, in Dudley (central England).

He did not go into the details of this plan, which includes investments in particular in the construction and renovation of schools, hospitals and roads.

Even before his speech, on the basis of elements published in the British press, the Labor opposition had criticized an unambitious plan given the scale of the crisis while Greenpeace had judged it not up to the climate challenges.

“Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ has spawned mega-projects like the Hoover Dam – while the Prime Minister’s list of priority projects includes repairing a bridge at Sandwell,” said the Financial Times.

In the first quarter, marked by just one week of containment, British gross domestic product fell 2.2%, unheard of since 1979, and the International Monetary Fund predicts a historic collapse of more than 10% for 2020.

While British debt has already exceeded 100% of GDP during this crisis, the question of financing remains unresolved.

In keeping with his election promises of last fall, Boris Johnson has refused any return to austerity, saying that “the world has changed since 2008″. “I am not a communist but I think it is also the job of the government to create the conditions necessary for the market economy,” he said.

Leicester reconfiné

This recovery plan comes at a time when the health crisis is experiencing a first resurgence which led the government to announce Tuesday evening containment measures in Leicester and its surroundings, in an area representing more than 600,000 inhabitants.

UK: tightening of containment in Leicester after an outbreak of Covid-19
UK: tightening of containment in Leicester after an outbreak of Covid-19 © France 24 screenshot

UK: tightening of containment in Leicester after an outbreak of Covid-19

This news had the effect of a cold shower a few days before the reopening, scheduled for Saturday in the rest of England, of a large part of the shops closed since the end of March, in particular pubs and hairdressers. In the city, it was received in a mixed manner.

“It’s bossy!” stormed Will Horspool, 35, interviewed by AFP, who had already reserved a table in a pub for next week after the reopening scheduled for Saturday.

“People do not take the situation seriously, they do not wear masks in stores,” said Manuela, a 30-year-old nurse.

Mayor Peter Soulsby admitted to the press that the measures announced were harsher than expected.

“I am obviously concerned for the well-being of the city and the health of the population but also for the economy,” he said, calling on the government to give more financial support to his commune.

With AFP

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