Boris Johnson has refused to rule out raising taxes to meet the costs of tackling the Covid-19 crisis, as he promised to use infrastructure spending and planning reforms to “build, build, build” his way out of a looming recession.
Leicester lockdown: City 'must stick together' after coronavirus surge.
Delivering a major speech in Dudley College of Technology, the prime minister claimed his government would tackle the long-term problems in the UK economy revealed by the “lightning flash” of the pandemic.
Acknowledging the scale of the oncoming downturn, he said: “We must work fast, because we’ve already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP, and we know that people are worried about their jobs and their businesses.
“And we’re waiting as if between the flash of lightning and the thunderclap, with our hearts in our mouths, for the full economic reverberations to appear.”
Downing Street has been accused of sowing confusion and anxiety in Leicester as it imposes the first local lockdown to combat a surge in Covid-19 cases in the city, with the health secretary facing demands to pinpoint how the measures will work.
In an evening statement to the Commons on Monday, Matt Hancock announced that schools would shut to most children and reopened shops forced to close as restrictions were strengthened and continued for two weeks in Leicester.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats back the lockdown in the city but criticism is brewing over the government’s handling, with the parties calling for clarity over how it will actually be imposed.
The measures mean the city, where more than 300,000 people live, will be set on a different path from the rest of England, which will enjoy new freedoms, including the reopening of pubs and restaurants from 4 July, on what has been labelled “Super Saturday”.