Boris Johnson Goes for Another Infrastructure Initiative
July 26, 2020 (EIRNS)—U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued another initiative (following his call for an FDR-style “New Deal” a few weeks ago) to escalate investments into basic infrastructure. The Sunday Telegraph reported today (as reported in the Daily Mail) that “Boris Johnson and [Chancellor of the Exchequer] Rishi Sunak are to launch a Silicon Valley-inspired venture capitalist spending spree on roads, infrastructure and energy. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay is expected to announce plans to ditch the Treasury’s cautious approach to spending and adopt bold practices from U.S. firms.” They further write that this would focus on “innovative” projects which would “rapidly fulfill Downing Street promises on roads, infrastructure and energy.”
The report states that Barclay and Sunak had co-founded an investment firm in Silicon Valley, and intend to use “project management processes used by technology companies in the U.S.” Barclay, a former Barclays executive (but not in the family), will reportedly promise to shape the Treasury into “the department that marshals together people, ideas and best practice, from inside and outside government to make things happen,” and will comport with Johnson’s idea of “Project Speed,” a plan to fast-track infrastructure development. Barclay is said to have asked: “If the wheels of government can be made to spin this fast in a crisis with all the added pressures of lockdown, why can’t it happen normally?”
Johnson said that despite the continuing health challenges and looming economic crisis, it was “the moment to be ambitious about the future,” and that people would be offered a “New Deal,” which would rebuild the U.K. “in a fairer way after the pandemic exposed divisions in society,” the Daily Mail reports. They further write that Johnson has insisted that there would be no return to austerity, despite the dire state of the public finances, but refused to rule out tax rises further down the track.