Boris Johnson promises to get British economy back on an ‘even keel’ BEFORE 2024 despite national debt approaching £2trillion as country battles coronavirus fallout

  • Boris Johnson last night addressed the end of term meeting of 1922 Committee
  • Mr Johnson said the UK economy will be back on an ‘even keel’ before 2024
  • The Prime Minister said that ‘slowly but surely’ life in the UK will return to normal 

The British economy will be back on an ‘even keel’ before the 2024 general election, Boris Johnson told Tory MPs last night as he said ‘slowly but surely’ life in the UK will return to normal. 

The Prime Minister addressed an end-of-term meeting of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbench MPs in the House of Commons and he is said to have struck an optimistic tone. 

Those who attended the meeting said the PM was ‘bullish’ on the chances of a swift economic recovery from the damage done by the coronavirus crisis. 

But he warned the Government will not rush the easing of lockdown rules as he said the UK must ‘avoid the situation’ in the US where cases have spiked after measures were loosened in a number of states. 

Mr Johnson’s comments come after borrowing figures released this week highlighted the scale of the challenge which faces the UK in the coming years. 

Office for National Statistics data published on Tuesday showed Britain now has the highest debt to GDP ratio recorded since 1961 after the Government borrowed record amounts to pay for the crisis. 

Overall public sector debt at the end of June stood at £1,983.8 billion – or almost £2 trillion. 

Boris Johnson, pictured in the House of Commons yesterday, told Tory MPs that ‘slowly but surely’ life in the UK will return to normal and the British economy will be on an ‘even keel’ before 2024

It comes after the Office for National Statistics  published data this week which showed public sector borrowing hit its highest ever levels in April, May and June of this year

Mr Johnson addressed an estimated 100 Tory MPs at yesterday’s meeting, with some attending in person while others watched remotely on a video link, as the PM reportedly spoke and answered questions for 45 minutes. 

One MP who saw the address told the Telegraph: ‘He was very bullish [saying] “we are going to get the public finances back on track as quickly as possible”.’

The MP added: ‘He was saying: “well before the next general election… we will be back on an even keel”. So it depends on the recovery of the economy.’ 

Another MP said the PM had warned that the UK must not go down the path of the US where coronavirus cases continue to surge.  

He said the Government’s approach will continue to be ‘opening up as fast as we can, and proceeding as the science advises’ and that ‘slowly but surely we will get through this’.

He said Britain has ‘to be careful to avoid the situation that is going on in the States’ and that the US had ‘eased the lockdown too soon and are suffering as a result’.

Ministers are hoping for a ‘V-shaped’ economic recovery, with a sharp fall caused by the nationwide lockdown followed immediately by an equally sharp uptick. 

But the Bank of England has warned that the UK could see an ‘incomplete V-shaped’ recovery where there is an initial surge before rising unemployment slows things down towards the end of the year. 

The scale of the economic damage done by the crisis was illustrated this week by staggering new Government borrowing numbers. 

The data published by the ONS showed borrowing rocketed to a record high of almost £36 billion in June this year – five times higher than what was borrowed in the same month in 2019. 

The amount borrowed in June represented the third highest amount for any month on record, with the preceding May and April the other two record-setters.   

It means borrowing in the first quarter of the current financial year stood at £127.9 billion – more than double that seen in the whole of the previous year. 

Meanwhile, the public sector debt to gross domestic product ration has now hit its highest level since 1961.

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