Boris Johnson pledged that he would not let the coronavirus crisis “hold this country back” as he marked a year in Number 10.
The Prime Minister said the country had been dealt a “devastating blow” by the virus but the spirit shown in tackling the outbreak should be harnessed to “build back better”.
Mr Johnson’s turbulent first year in office has seen Brexit, the birth of his son Wilfred and a personal battle with coronavirus which left him in intensive care.
There have been more than 56,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate and the economic impact of the virus could see the largest decline in annual GDP for 300 years, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s measures to support the economy are expected to result in an unprecedented peacetime rise in borrowing.
The Prime Minister said the country must show the same “unity of purpose” displayed in fighting the virus to help recover from it.
Mr Johnson said that he had “got Brexit done” and he was making progress on his promise to “level up” the country before the virus struck.
He said: “It is one year since I stood on the steps of Downing Street and made a promise to the British people.
“That this government would get Brexit done and then unite and level up the country.
“We got Brexit done and made great progress on delivering on those priorities.
“Then our country was hit by a devastating blow in the form of Coronavirus.
“Today I want to make this pledge: I will not let the virus hold this country back.
“We must harness the unity of purpose and resolve we have shown as a country in fighting Coronavirus – and use it to build back better.”
On the eve of his anniversary in Downing Street, Mr Johnson flew to Scotland in an effort to promote the union in the face of polls showing rising support for independence.
Mr Johnson said: “The union is a fantastically strong institution, it’s helped our country through thick and thin, it’s very, very valuable in terms of the support we’ve been able to give to everybody throughout all corners of the UK.”