Boris Johnson says coronavirus crisis presents 'massive opportunity' to 'maximise potential of country'

Imogen Braddick
·2-min read
PA
PA

The coronavirus crisis represents a "massive opportunity" to change the country, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister told Conservative members at the party’s online conference that the pandemic had highlighted productivity issues in the UK but also how to "short circuit" them to get things done faster.

Mr Johnson said he wanted to win the public’s support for a tax-cutting agenda in the wake of the crisis.

In comments reported by the Daily Mirror, Mr Johnson said: "We have a massive opportunity now to use this unquestionable crisis, I mean it’s been a huge thing for our country, to build back better."

He added: "Covid has illuminated all sorts of problems we have in productivity, in getting things done, in the way Government works.

"Well, we can short circuit some of these things, we can get them done faster.

"So let's do everything we can now to maximise the potential of the country.

"It has been a very, very difficult time but come the spring the opportunity will be massive."

Mr Johnson defended the decision to end the furlough scheme at the end of the month, a move which has prompted concerns about a sharp rise in unemployment.

"On the left, there are forces saying we must keep furlough going forever, we must keep paying people, the state must get bigger and bigger," he said.

"And it will be up to us to say it is not for the state to pre-empt virtually half the wealth and spend it on behalf of people because that is not the government’s job."

But the Prime Minister was condemned as "out of touch" after his comments.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: "It shows how out of touch the Prime Minister is that he would see this crisis as an opportunity to accelerate a Tory approach that has held our country back.

"We cannot let Boris Johnson take us back to 1980s-style levels of unemployment, and forcing people on the lowest incomes in the North and the Midlands to pay the highest price."

This story is being updated.

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