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Johnson promises billions of pounds to revamp economy

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday promised to spend 5 billion pounds (or 6.15 billion dollars) on infrastructure projects to kick-start Britain’s economic recovery.

According to him, the plan is to help the country through the expected severe economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic as well as Britain leaving the EU.

“The spending programme will also tackle Britain’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.

“To this end, we will build, build and build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires,”he said.

The plan includes: an extra 1 billion pounds for school construction over the next two years; 1.5 billion pounds for hospital maintenance and other health infrastructure; plus spending on courts, prisons, roads, bridges and local high streets.

“If we deliver this plan together, then we will together build our way back to health.

“We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward, stronger and better and more united than ever before,” Johnson said.

Earlier, in an interview with Times Radio, Johnson said he expected “bumpy times” ahead for the British economy.

The Resolution Foundation, a London-based think-tank, said Britain needed its biggest job creation programme in peacetime to respond to an expected surge in unemployment.

Manufacturers’ group, Make UK, said British firms were unlikely to recover to their Pre COVID-19 growth track until at least 2022.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Peter Dada (NAN)

Yahaya Isah: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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Johnson says England may need stricter face mask rules

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tighter rules on wearing face coverings may be needed to stop a resurgence in COVID-19 infections

Johnson said that he would like to see the people wear face covering more frequently in shops in England.

“I do think we need to be stricter in insisting that people wear face coverings in confined places where they are meeting people that they don’t normally meet,” Johnson said in a pre-recorded question-and-answer session with the public.

Britain has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll, with almost 45,000 confirmed deaths, and weekly figures on Friday showed a small rise in the COVID-19 reproduction rate, although the number of new infections continues to fall.

People in England are only required to wear face masks on public transport and when visiting hospitals, but on Friday Scotland made it compulsory to wear them in shops as well.

Just over half of British adults who left their homes last week wore a mask, rising to 89 per cent of people on public transport, according to official data published earlier on Friday.

Johnson said he believed the scientific evidence that face coverings were useful was stronger than at the start of the pandemic, and that as lockdown restrictions eased they would be important in stopping a flare-up in cases.

“So that’s why it’s mandatory already on public transport, and we’re looking at ways of making sure that people really do observe when you do have face coverings in shops for instance where … there is a risk of transmission,” he added.

Non-essential shops in England reopened to the public on June 15, and hairdressers, pubs and restaurants resumed business last Saturday.

However, the number of customers in shops and cafes is only around half its pre-COVID level, and on Wednesday the government slashed value-added tax and announced other incentives to boost domestic tourism and encourage people to visit restaurants.

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Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Behave yourselves, UK PM Johnson warns as pubs get ready to pull pints again

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday urged Britons to act responsibly when pubs reopen this weekend and not to blow the collective effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The latest phase in a gradual reopening of the British economy on Saturday will see pubs in England open for the first time since mid-March, as well as restaurants, museums, hotels and other businesses.

The much-awaited event has been dubbed “Super Saturday” in the media, sparking worries that after months cooped up indoors, some people could get carried away and risk spreading COVID-19.

“I hope very much that people will behave responsibly and enjoy summer safely,” Johnson told LBC radio, defending the timing of the reopening by saying it was based on a clear understanding of the risks.

“We think we’re in good shape, but my message is, let’s not blow it now.”

He would later use a government news conference to warn that businesses, livelihoods and the future of the whole economy depends on respecting social distancing rules.

Report says police are also taking extra measures.

“We are absolutely prepared, and you’ll see a lot of police officers out on the street.

“There will be a lot more ready should people be out of order, should people get violent, but I’m not predicting that at this stage,” London police chief Cressida Dick told BBC radio.

Many of the elements that define a pub will be missing when they reopen, with numbers limited, there will be no crowds, no standing at the bar and no live music.

Drinkers should stay two metres apart where possible, and in venues where they cannot, landlords must take other measures such as partitions between tables.

Venues will also have to keep a record of customers in case of a virus outbreak.

Pubs in Northern Ireland reopened, while those in Scotland can serve drinkers outside from July 6 and reopen fully from July 15.

In Wales, pubs would be able to serve drinks outside from July 13.

Johnson has previously said he is looking forward to visiting a pub himself, however said that patrons will have to stick to new rules.

He will point to a spike in cases that has forced the English city of Leicester to be locked down and warn that freedoms could be swiftly revoked if the virus takes hold elsewhere.

Britain has been among the worst-hit countries in the world in the epidemic.

The death toll from confirmed cases of the coronavirus is 43,995, although if suspected cases are included the number is almost 55,000.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Johnson: Hong Kong law ‘clear and serious breach’ of agreement

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Britain Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on Wednesday said China’s imposition of a new security law on Hong Kong was a “clear and serious breach” of its agreement with Britain.

Johnson confirmed that Britain will proceed with a plan to expand residency rights for Hong Kong British passport holders in spite objections from Beijing.

“We stand for rules and obligations and we think that is the soundest basis for our international relations .

“As well as the enactment and imposition of the national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British joint declaration.

“We made clear that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route for those in Hong Kong with British national overseas status to enter the UK.

“`We will also grant them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship, and that is precisely what we will do now,”Johnson said.

Britain handed the control of Hong Kong to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of colonial rule.

Beijing agreed to uphold basic freedoms in the territory under a 1984 Sino-British declaration.

According to British media, up to three million people in Hong Kong could be eligible for a British National Overseas passport.

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Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)

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‘As Israel’s friend’ Boris Johnson warns against annexation in op-ed

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated his opposition to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank in an op-ed published on Wednesday, a date set by the Israeli coalition as the first day from which steps towards annexation may be implemented.

In an opinion piece in the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Johnson wrote: “It is with sadness that I have followed the proposals to annex Palestinian territory.

“As a life-long friend, admirer, and supporter of Israel, I am fearful that these proposals will fail in their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.”

Most of the international community has spoken out against statements by Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu that he plans to annex Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, land Palestinians want as part of an independent state.

“Annexation would represent a violation of international law,” Johnson wrote.

Netanyahu on Tuesday played down the July 1 date after weeks of anticipation, saying that his government would be working on the annexation question “in the coming days.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told Israel’s Army Radio that he thought it was “unlikely” that annexation would happen on Wednesday.

“I do not know if there will be a declaration of sovereignty today.

“You have to ask Prime Minister Netanyahu,” he said.

Netanyahu can proceed with the move by either bringing proposals on annexation before the Israeli cabinet or parliament for a vote.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Johnson makes ‘build, build, build’ pledge to revive Britain

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed on Tuesday to spend £5 billion ($6.15 billion) on infrastructure projects and launch a £12 billion house-building programme to kick-start Britain’s economic recovery.

Johnson said he wants to “build back better” to help the country through the expected severe economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and Britain leaving the European Union.

The spending programme will also “tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades,’’ he said in advance excerpts from a speech later Tuesday.

“To that end, we will build, build, build,’’ Johnson said.

“Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.’’

The plan includes an extra £1 billion for school construction over the next two years; £1.5 billion for hospital maintenance and other health infrastructure; plus spending on courts, prisons, roads, bridges and local high streets.

“If we deliver this plan together, then we will together build our way back to health,’’ Johnson said.

“We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward – stronger and better and more united than ever before.’’

Johnson did not say how the government will fund the new programmes, which are planned over periods ranging from one to 10 years.

He ruled out any “punitive tax raid on the wealth creators’’.

Opposition Labour lawmaker, David Lammy, said Johnson showed in his speech that he was “a prime minister totally unaware of the scale of the economic challenges we face’’.

Lammy cited an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecast that Britain will suffer the worst economic fallout from the pandemic among developed nations.

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), cautiously welcomed Johnson’s pledges, but said businesses need more help from the government.

“Foundations are there to be built on,’’ Fairbairn said.

“More is needed to prevent the uneven scarring unemployment leaves on communities.’’

“The reality is that longer-term plans will falter without continued help for firms still in desperate difficulty,’’ she said.

Johnson said he expected “huge economic costs” from the pandemic, bringing a “far bigger challenge” than the 2008 financial crisis.

“We will build the foundations now for future prosperity to make this country – a Britain that is fully independent and self-governing for the first time in 45 years – the most attractive place to live, to invest and to set up a company,’’ he said, referring to Britain leaving the European Union.

He promised to launch a “Project Speed to scythe through red tape and get things done’’.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

 

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UK ready to quit EU on ‘Australia terms’ if no Brexit deal, PM Johnson says

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Britain will be ready to quit its transitional arrangements with the European Union “on Australia terms” if no deal on their future relationship is reached, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday.

Johnson said when he was discussing with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki on Saturday.

Britain left the bloc on Jan. 31. A transition period, during which Britain remains in the European single market and customs union, expires on Dec. 31 and pressure is mounting to agree a free trade deal before then.

With the two sides still far apart, a round of “intensified negotiations” is due to start next week.

“He (Johnson) said the UK would negotiate constructively but equally would be ready to leave the transition period on Australia terms if agreement could not be reached,” Johnson’s Downing Street office said in a statement.

Australia does not have a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU. Much of EU-Australia trade follows default World Trade Organisation rules, though specific agreements are in place for certain goods.

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Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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British PM Johnson dismisses criticism on local lockdowns, coronavirus app

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday dismissed criticism of his government’s plans to implement local lockdowns if there are flare ups of the novel coronavirus and of an app to trace the spread of the virus.

At prime minister’s questions, the opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer suggested both systems were not yet ready before England eases its coronavirus lockdown from July 4.

“We have a very effective cluster-busting operation which is designed to ensure that we keep those outbreaks under control.

“I am not going to pretend that this thing is beaten or that the virus has gone away.

“We have to remain vigilant and local councils will be supported in doing their vital work in implementing local lockdowns,’’ Johnson said in response.

He, however, challenged Starmer to find any other country that has a functioning tracing app.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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UK Prime Minister, Johnson announces plans to ease COVID-19 lockdown in England

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that England could start gradually easing the COVID-19 lockdown thanks to a significant prevalence drop, adding that the 2-meter social distancing rule would be changed starting July 4.

“Our cautious relaxation of the guidance is entirely conditional of our continued defeat of the virus.

“In the first half of May, nearly 69,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 across the UK.

“By the first half of June, that token has fallen by 70 per cent to just under 22,000.

“This pandemic has inflicted permanent scars and we mourn everyone we have lost.

“While we remain vigilant, we do not believe there is currently a risk of a second peak of infections that might overwhelm the NHS.

“Thanks to our progress, we can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England,” Johnson told the UK parliament.

The prime minister stressed that each step would be conditional and reversible.

“Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, we can change the 2-meter social distancing rule from July 4.

“Where it is possible to keep 2 meters apart, people should.

“But where it is not, we would advise people to keep a social distance of 1 meter plus,” Johnson added.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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British Prime Minister Johnson due to announce easing of lockdown

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on Tuesday expected to announce further easing of coronavirus lockdown measures in England, allowing pubs and restaurants to reopen from July 4.

British media reported ahead of Johnson’s statement to parliament that the move would also allow cinemas and museums to reopen, and the 2-metre distancing rule will be revised.

Johnson took part in a meeting on Monday with the government’s COVID-19 strategy committee, where the changes were discussed.

“But the more we open up, the more important it is that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines.

“We will not hesitate to reverse these steps if it is necessary to stop the virus running out of control,” a Downing Street source was quoted as telling Sky News.

On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the virus was “in retreat.”

The health ministry added that Britain recorded its lowest daily coronavirus-related death toll since mid-March, with only 15 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

It was the first time in months that the country had recorded fewer than 1,000 daily new infections.

Britain has been the European country hardest hit by the pandemic, with over 42,600 related deaths.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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