Europe Economy

U.K. needs a 'Rooseveltian' approach to the economy, Boris Johnson says

Key Points
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to announce a massive boost to public spending.
  • He unveiled a significant school-building program Monday, with a further announcement on public investment due Tuesday,
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt is renowned for implementing the "New Deal" program that funded the mass building of U.S. public infrastructure.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on his way to Buckingham Palace after the general election in London, Britain, December 13, 2019.
Thomas Mukoya | Reuters

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country needs a "Rooseveltian" approach to the economy following the coronavirus epidemic, as he prepares to announce a massive boost to public spending.

Unveiling a £1 billion ($1.24 billion) school-building program on Monday, with a further announcement on large public investment due Tuesday, Johnson referenced former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who was elected to the U.S. presidency during the height of the Great Depression.

Roosevelt is renowned for implementing the "New Deal" program that funded the mass building of U.S. public infrastructure, ranging from hospitals to post offices, bridges and schools. Its aim was to help the country recover from economic crisis during the 1930s.

Speaking to Times Radio, Johnson said the coronavirus epidemic had been an "absolute nightmare for the country" but added that "in those moments you have the opportunity to change and to do things better ... to invest in infrastructure, transport, broadband, you name it."

"I think this is the moment for a Rooseveltian approach to the U.K.," he added.

Johnson said a return to austerity would be a mistake for the U.K., where the economy is expected to see its gross domestic product contract by 10.2% in 2020 before growing 6.3% in 2021, according to the latest forecasts from the International Monetary Fund.

The prime minister is expected to announce Tuesday further public spending on hospitals, homes and infrastructure.