Boris Johnson urges Britain to make ‘massive effort’ to get back to normal

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The Prime Minister said he wants people to “stop thinking of coronavirus as something that makes it impossible to do things” as he rallied the nation on his first year in No 10.

Mr Johnson insisted he will tackle the “backlog Britain” created by skeleton staffing of government services during the Covid 19 crisis.

And he vowed to put his “foot to the throttle” on plans to boost economic growth in all parts of the UK.

Mr Johnson is keen to get the country out and about again after months of lockdown.

“I want to see a massive effort now by the country to psychologically to stop thinking of coronavirus as something that makes it impossible to do things and start really looking at tackling the problems of the British people – how to get the things that they want in double time,” he told Sky News.

But he insisted the government is still pushing ahead with its plans to “level up” the country.

He said: “What we have been able to do in spite of the pandemic is keep going with the fundamental things we promised to the British people.

Mr Johnson said police and nurse recruitment has already increased and work is under way on creating 40 new hospitals.

“We will have spades in the ground by 2024,” he said.

The PM said the economic impact of coronavirus means the government has to “double down” on its reform agenda.

“Our Investments in infrastructure, in public services, are more urgent than ever before,” he said.

“I’m very pleased with some of the progress we have made but we are going to be putting our foot to the throttle.”

Bureaucratic delays have led to thousands of Britons without passports or driving licences and parents are struggling to register newborns.

During a visit to a GP surgery in east London, Mr Johnson said the government has launched “Project Speed” to sort out the problems.

“There are aspects of the way Government works, the whole of Government, that really need to be faster and more responsive to the needs of the people,” he said.

“And if you look at particularly what’s happening now, you’ve got this problem of ‘backlog Britain’.

“You’ve got people not getting their passports on time, their birth certificates, huge problems of backlogs, cases not going through the courts fast enough.

“That’s something that I think that we as a country with the fantastic civil servants that we have, now that’s something that we should really be bending our wills to solve.”

The PM said he wanted to go faster with his agenda for change and he believes the country will “bounce back really much stronger than ever before”.

Mr Johnson entered Downing Street a year ago yesterday after resoundingly winning a Tory leadership contest.

He went on to secure a thumping 80-seat majority for the Conservatives in the general election, and took Britain out of the EU in January.

But weeks later the coronavirus crisis hit Britain and the PM was left fighting for his own life after being struck down by the disease.

Mr Johnson said he was “very lucky” and had been treated by a “fantastic” team of doctors and nurses.

In an interview with the BBC, the PM admitted that the Government did not understand Covid-19 sufficiently in its “first few weeks and months”.

“We didn’t understand (the virus) in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months.

“And I think probably, the single thing that we didn’t see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person.

“I think it’s fair to say that there are things that we need to learn about how we handled it in the early stages… there will be plenty of opportunities to learn the lessons of what happened.”

Mr Johnson said there were things his Government “could have done differently” during the handling of the pandemic.

“Maybe there were things we could have done differently and of course there will be time to understand what exactly we could have done, or done differently.

“When you listen to the scientists, the questions that you’ve asked are actually very open questions as far as they are concerned.

“And there will be a time obviously to consider all those issues.”

The PM said the country was “vulnerable” to a resurgence of coronavirus, particularly in the winter.

“Collectively, this country has done an incredible thing to get the disease down to the levels it’s at. But we all know that it can come back.

“And we can see what’s happening in other countries – I won’t name them – but you can see the resurgence that’s happening. We know that we’re vulnerable there.

“So that’s why we’re getting on now with our preparations for the winter… a massive flu vaccination programme, stockpiling PPE, making sure that we ramp up Test and Trace, and making sure that people get tested if they have symptoms.”

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