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Johnson says next UK laws to look beyond Brexit and COVID-19

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at BBC Broadcasting House in London to appear on the Andrew Marr show. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at BBC Broadcasting House in London to appear on the Andrew Marr show. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

Boris Johnson has said he will try to look beyond the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit in the months to come, in order to focus on delivering commitments made during the Conservative election campaign.

In a statement released on Sunday, ahead of his Conservative Party conference speech, he pledged to return to the policies that helped his party win the election in December.

Key pledges included leaving the EU early on in 2020, and getting Brexit “done” in good time.

The party also said that income tax, VAT and national insurance would not rise, a promise that will be a mean feat in a post-coronavirus world.

Infrastructure-wise he pledged £2bn ($2.6bn) to fill potholed roads, as well as a Manchester-Leeds rail line.

In healthcare, the party said it would up the number of NHS nurses by 50,000 and reintroduce nursing grants for students.

Changes to tax and benefits also featured, as the party planned to continue the rollout of Universal Credit and end the freeze on benefits.

When it comes to spending on debt, they said that public sector net investment should not average more than 3% of GDP; and if debt interest reaches 6% of annual revenue, “we will reassess our plans to keep debt under control.”

Johnson is looking to shift the message beyond criticism of how his government has handled both COVID-19 and Brexit, both of which have left the UK in uncertain territory.

The announcement looks ahead to the Queen’s speech, where the monarch will set out which laws the Conservatives intend to pass in the year to come. A date for that has not yet been confirmed.

The government said the speech is to include bills on criminal justice, planning and animal welfare.

The Conservative Party conference is currently in full swing, with dispatches from cabinet ministers and a key note speech on the slate from the prime minister on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Tory conference: Truss warns on foreign takeovers as Gove looks beyond London for jobs

When asked about the outlook for coronavirus, Johnson said in a BBC TV interview today that he expects it to “continue to be bumpy through to Christmas.”

“It may even be bumpy beyond,” he continued. “But this is the only way to do it.”

“In these areas, and I appreciate the fatigue that people are experiencing, but we have to work together, follow the guidance and get the virus down whilst keeping the economy moving, that’s the balance we’re trying to find,” he said.