‘After the jabs, now jobs’: Boris Johnson’s £650bn push to boost economy

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Boris Johnson listens to apprentice Amy Gray during a visit to a British Gas training academy near Leicester, on Monday   (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson listens to apprentice Amy Gray during a visit to a British Gas training academy near Leicester, on Monday (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson launched an “after the jabs, the jobs” push on Monday as he prepared to set out his plans to combat a possible winter surge of coronavirus.

On a visit to the Midlands, the Prime Minister trumpeted a £650 billion initiative which the Government says will deliver 425,000 new jobs a year over the next four years, though the investment is partly reliant on the private sector.

The announcement is part of a pitch by Mr Johnson’s government to shift focus away from the pandemic and towards his plan to boost the economy and level up the country.

“Having done the jabs, we want to continue to try to get people into jobs,” Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said on Monday morning.

Amid growing concern that the NHS could again be overwhelmed in the coming weeks as Covid-19 cases rise at the same time as seasonal flu, the Prime Minister will tomorrow announce contingency plans to deal with any fresh spike in cases.

With the UK’s vaccination programme central to the Government’s plans, guidance to work from home and the mandatory use of face masks may also be retained as options.

But Covid passports look to have been ruled out for now after a weekend of confusion over whether they might be introduced in nightclubs and other venues. Ms Coffey said the introduction of vaccine passports had not been “ruled out forever”.

She told BBC Breakfast: “As [Health Secretary] Sajid Javid set out yesterday, although the formal decision is still to be made, but having reflected and looked at the details of the proposal that it’s not deemed necessary at this moment in time.

“But they haven’t been ruled out forever. It’s reflecting the fact that a lot of young people have come forward and got their vaccinations over the summer.”

She added the work from home guidance could return under plans to combat a possible surge in coronavirus during the winter. “These are the sensible measures I think that we’re going to keep,” she said.

On the issue of masks, she added: “The Prime Minister will be setting out the Covid winter plan tomorrow. I think my approach, and I see that with a lot of employers’ organisations, is about having a situation-specific approach.”

Mr Javid said on Sunday that vaccine passports were a “huge intrusion into people’s lives” and there were no current plans to go ahead with them.

“You have got to be really, really certain that’s what you want to do. We have looked at it and whilst we will keep it in reserve I am pleased to say that we will not be going ahead,” he said.

Separately the Government is preparing to scrap costly PCR tests for double vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK from green and amber list countries, as part of a travel update later this week.

Mr Johnson said the £650 billion Infrastructure Pipeline will create opportunities for “thousands” of apprentices, technicians, graduates and skilled workers. “From entry-level roles and post university careers, we’re creating the jobs this country needs to build back better following the pandemic,” he added.

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