Boris Johnson pledges to dual A1 and hails Union role in virus crisis

Boris Johnson has pledged to dual the A1 as he unveiled a £5bn recovery plan for the economy that commits the government to “build, build, build” its way out of recession.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Speller Metcalfe's building site at The Dudley Institute of Technology
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Speller Metcalfe's building site at The Dudley Institute of Technology

Investment in schools, hospitals and roads in England will be brought forward, with a study conducted into future transport links between the nations of the UK - including “cross-sea links” such as the Prime Minister’s proposed bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson promised to “level up” the whole of the UK, and said the Union had “more than showed its worth” through he coronavirus crisis.

It came as the first official quarterly GDP figures for 2020 confirmed the scale of the economic crisis facing the UK, with output shrinking by 2.2% from January to March - the deepest quarterly fall since 1979.

“Now is the moment to strengthen that incredible partnership between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,” the Prime Minister said in his speech in the West Midlands town of Dudley.

“I know that some have sometimes played up the legitimate variations in the response between the devolved administrations, but when you look at the whole effort you can see the absolutely vital role of that union and that partnership.

“It is our fantastic UK armed services that have played such a crucial role in this crisis: running the test centres, building the hospitals, transporting people from the Shetlands to the right Covid wards.

“It was the might of the UK Treasury that set up that furlough scheme – in all corners of the country and sent massive and immediate extra funding to all four parts of the UK.

Mr Johnson added: “I believe the union has more than showed its worth and a prosperous and united Kingdom must be a connected Kingdom.

“That is why we are now accelerating projects from South West to the North East

from Wales, to Scotland, to Northern Ireland, and to drive economic growth in all parts of the country, we will carry out a study of all future road, rail, air and cross-sea links between all four parts of the UK.

“When did a government first promise to dual the A1 to Scotland? It was 1992. Well, this government is going to do it.”

The recovery plan was attacked by the SNP, which had called for £80bn worth of investment and additional borrowing and spending powers for Scotland.

Ian Blackford, the nationalist leader at Westminster, claimed the UK Government was putting the economic recovery at risk.

“Yet again, Boris Johnson has fallen woefully short on his promises with this failure of ambition that completely ignores Scotland's needs,” Mr Blackford said.

"This recycled money falls far short of the huge investment that the UK requires to secure a strong recovery and it pales in comparison to the bold action being taken in other countries.”

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