Coronavirus: Boris Johnson says it would be a ‘mistake’ to go back to austerity because of pandemic

It would be a “mistake” to go back to austerity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister has said.

Boris Johnson told Times Radio there will be some “bumpy times” as the country recovers from the COVID-19 outbreak.

He said the coronavirus had been a “disaster” and an “absolute nightmare for the country”.

But the PM said the government would be “doubling down” on its levelling up agenda and investing in the economy.

It would be a “mistake” to go back to austerity, Mr Johnson added, saying he would be setting out a plan to “bounce forward” following the pandemic.

The government has already promised a decade-long schools rebuilding plan, with £1bn for 50 projects and another £560m for school repairs.

Mr Johnson said an economic effort like the one seen in the US under President Franklin D Roosevelt as it dealt with the Great Depression in the 1930s was needed for the UK.

“This is the time to invest in infrastructure, this is the time to make those long-term decisions for the good of the country,” the PM said.

“You have to be careful and the chancellor will be setting out our plans in the spending review in the autumn.

“But in the end what you can’t do at this moment is go back to what people called austerity, it wasn’t actually austerity but people called it austerity, and I think that would be a mistake.

“I think this is the moment for a Rooseveltian approach to the UK.”

A total of 43,550 have died in the UK with COVID-19, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Asked if he was still worried that total deaths and the infection rate remained too high, Mr Johnson said : “Every day I worry.

“Local hospital admissions are coming down, so are the death numbers.

“They are much, much lower than they were a few weeks ago and that is encouraging.”

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