Boris Johnson Lauds Public Sector Hiring in Move From Tory Past

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is encouraging a recruitment drive in the U.K. public sector, a sign he’s embracing a larger state in a break from previous Conservative governments.

“We have seen more clearly than ever the heroic efforts of our public workers during this pandemic,” Johnson said in a 10 Downing Street statement. “Together we are on a mission to build back better.”

Johnson’s government will give updates Friday about progress in hiring 20,000 police officers, plus details on hiring an extra 1,000 probation officers and approving 3,000 additional nursing university places. Investing in more public sector jobs was a key plank of the election campaign that delivered Johnson a clear parliamentary majority in December.

His optimism about the growth of the public sector is a change in tone from that of previous Tory administrations, such as during the eras of Margaret Thatcher or David Cameron, when efforts were made to slim the size of the state.

It’s also a sensitive issue within the party today: some Tories want the government to increase public spending further to fuel an economic recovery, while others worry about excessive indebtedness and stoking inflation. Addressing the point in a key speech last month, Johnson insisted he is not a communist, but that the government would not be turning to austerity as a response to the coronavirus crisis.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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