BORIS JOHNSON took to demonstrating press-ups for the cameras to show he is fully recovered from coronavirus as he prepares to unveil a spending package to boost the economy.
The prime minister claimed to be as ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’ as he acknowledged the pandemic ‘has been a huge, huge shock to the country but we’re going to bounce back very well’.
He added that ‘we want to build our way back to health’ ahead of a speech tomorrow when he is set to announce the creation of a taskforce charged with fast-tracking the building of schools, hospitals, roads and prisons.
Mr Johnson told the Mail on Sunday: ‘If Covid was a lightning flash, we’re about to have the thunderclap of the economic consequences. We’re going to be ready.’
Downing Street said the speed at which the NHS Nightingale hospitals were created across the country during the outbreak inspired Mr Johnson to set up the infrastructure delivery taskforce, which will be chaired by chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The group — known as Project Speed among officials — will be told there are ‘no excuses for delays’ to building programmes. It will sift through major infrastructure projects which are in the pipeline and look to iron out any issues which could hold up their delivery.
Mr Johnson insisted Britain would ‘absolutely not (be) going back to the austerity of ten years ago’ seen under ex-Tory PM David Cameron.
The development comes as reports suggested a further 1million people could become jobless — adding to the 2.8million already out of work — if further government support is not announced by August.
The Observer reported that fresh House of Commons Library analysis indicated that unemployment could soar to levels not seen since the 1980s.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that any economic recovery must be built on ‘solid foundations’ after what he claimed had been a lost decade of Tory inaction.
‘We are on the cusp of one of the biggest economic crises we have ever seen. The government must immediately prioritise protecting people’s lives and livelihoods,’ he said. It comes as the Resolution Foundation think- tank called for a job protection scheme to subsidise the wages of hospitality workers, who are among those hardest hit by the impact of the lockdown.