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UK’s Johnson hopes ‘levelling up’ policies will move focus from lockdown parties

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, Ukraine February 1, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

On Wednesday, Britain’s government will lay out its strategy to “level up” the country as it tries to move on from the Downing Street lockdown party scandal by focusing on one of Boris Johnson’s major policy goals when he was elected in 2019.

The news: It said it has selected 12 goals by 2030 to move focus and resources to Britain’s “forgotten” towns, including the “largest transition of power from London to local leaders in modern times,” according to the report.

  • Other goals include bringing local public transportation up to London’s level, expanding 5G and fibre broadband across the country, and eradicating illiteracy and innumeracy among elementary school graduates, according to the report.

What Johnson said: “From day one, the defining mission of this government has been to level up this country, to break the link between geography and destiny so that no matter where you live you have access to the same opportunities,” Prime Minister Johnson said in a statement.

  • In the 2019 election, he used the term “levelling up” as a shorthand for addressing regional disparities, particularly between former industrial areas and London and the southeast.

What’s going on: Opponents have said that the initiative is populist and lacking in substance.

  • Johnson is laying out the strategy as he tries to rebuild his premiership following devastating revelations about parties in his Number 10 Downing Street office and other government buildings during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
  • On Monday, a report on the parties found “severe leadership failings” at the heart of British governance.
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