U.K.’s Johnson Plans Speech on Economy After Restrictions Lifted

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning a major speech on Britain’s economic recovery as he attempts to reset his leadership after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Johnson is working on a keynote address to be delivered in the coming days, potentially to coincide with so-called “Freedom Day” on July 19, according to three people familiar with his plans.

The central message is likely to be a move from “jabs jabs jabs” to “jobs jobs jobs,” after data on Friday showed U.K. economic growth slowed to 0.8% in May, about half the rate expected. The gain in April, when restaurants and stores started to reopen, was revised downward to 2%.

A spokesman for Johnson didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Virtually all remaining Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be lifted on July 19, allowing nightclubs to reopen and people to queue at bars once again. A final decision will be announced on Monday.

Government ministers cite the rapid vaccine rollout as a reason to end Covid-19 rules, with almost two-thirds of U.K. adults now double-vaccinated.

But cases are rising fast: the reproduction rate of the virus in England has risen to levels last seen in October, the government said Friday. Cases of the delta variant, which accounts for 99% of U.K. infections, rose by almost a third in the past week to 216,249 cases, according to Public Health England.

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