Speaking at a college in the central English town of Dudley on Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled what has already been referred to as a Roosevelt-style 'New Deal', promising to give the British economy a boost after it emerges from the coronavirus-induced crisis.
"We cannot continue simply to be prisoners of the crisis," Johnson said. "It's absolutely vital for us to set out the way ahead, so that everyone can think and plan for the future, short, medium and long term. [...] "We must work fast because we've already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP and we know that people are worried now about their jobs and their businesses".
The prime minister further stated that Britain must seize the moment to fix decades-old problems and narrow the productivity gap with its competitors.
"We must use this moment now, this interval to plan our response and to fix of course the problems that were most brutally illuminated in that COVID lightning flash: the problems in our social cares system, the parts of government that seemed to respond so sluggishly," Johnson said.
The PM pointed out that Britain was not as productive as many of its competitors, and though London was the "capital of the world", much of the country felt left behind.
As Johnson unveiled a £5billion package of investment in schools, hospitals roads and other major schemes, he pledged to build more houses as part of what he described as an "infrastructure revolution" to get Britain's economy going again after the pandemic.
"This government will shortly bring forward the most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the second world war. We will build, build, build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster", he added.
During the speech, Johnson admitted, however, that "mistakes" had been made in the UK's response to the coronavirus, adding that some parts of the government were "so sluggish" amid the pandemic.
With a promise to "build, build, build" to kickstart the economy, Johnson compared the government’s impending strategy with the “New Deal” programmes led by former US President Franklin D Roosevelt, which capitalised on government spending to resurrect America from the worst economic crisis in its history during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
"I'm conscious ... that it sounds like a prodigious amount of government intervention, sounds like a new deal... If that is so, then that is how it's meant to sound," Johnson said.
Labour Party on Johnson's Speech
Shortly after Johnson's address, the Labour party leader, Keir Starmer, stated that "there's not much that is new" in the proposed deal. The official also added that the furlough scheme should be extended where it's needed to preserve jobs
"The prime minister promised a new deal - well there's not much that's new and it's not much of a deal. It's not enough," Starmer told the BBC.
On the eve of his much-hyped address, Johnson told The Mail on Sunday that his government would not “go back to what people called austerity”, imposed by the Conservative Party after the 2008 financial crisis.
The UK has started to lift lockdown restrictions that were imposed back in March with pubs, restaurants, hotels and many other businesses being allowed to receive customers starting from 4 July.