Boris Johnson says coronavirus won't stop UK 'levelling up' and 'building back better'

6 October 2020, 11:54 | Updated: 6 October 2020, 14:37

Boris Johnson said the virus would not "slow down" his plans to level up the country
Boris Johnson said the virus would not "slow down" his plans to level up the country. Picture: Conservative Party

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson today pledged not to let the pandemic thwart efforts to 'level up' the country, saying the virus should act as a trigger for speeding up social and economic change.

The Prime Minister said that the virus would not impede efforts to "build back better," but added that "going back to normal" after the coronavirus crisis will not be enough.

Mr Johnson said: “After all we have been through it isn’t enough just to go back to normal. We have lost too much. We have mourned too many.”

He said Britain would see off the virus “just as this country has seen off every alien invader for the last thousand years”.

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Mr Johnson used his Conservative Party virtual conference speech, delivered to an empty room, to say that the Government was working "night and day to repel this virus".

He said: "We can't define the mission of this government as to merely restore normality."

"I don't know about you, but I have had more than enough of this disease that attacks not only human beings but so many of the greatest things about our country - our pubs, our clubs, our football, our theatre and all the gossipy gregariousness and love of human contact that drives the creativity of our economy."

He said he is confident that Britain will defeat coronavirus and pledged the Government is determined to "build back better".

"After all we have been through it is not enough just to go back to before. We have lost too much, we have mourned too many.

"We have been through too much frustration and hardship just to settle for the status quo ante to think that life can go on as before the plague and we will not.

"That is why this Government will build back better."

He also addressed his own personal battle with the illness and assured his party he was now in robust health.

Mr Johnson also joked about his weight loss, revealing he had lost 26lbs, saying: “And I am going to continue that diet, because you’ve got to search for the hero inside yourself.”

Mr Johnson is facing a Commons vote later today where a growing number of Tory rebels hope to overturn the 10pm curfew measure that they say is damaging businesses and causes crowding after hours, risking spread of the virus.