Tuesday, March 21

UK Needs ‘Smaller State’ to Learn to Live With Covid: Barclay

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By Megan Durisin

(Bloomberg) —

The UK government aims to create a “smaller state” as it shifts policy to adjust to living with the coronavirus, according to a letter in The Telegraph from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new chief of staff.

The country has spent 400 billion pounds ($543 billion) fighting the pandemic and now wants to step back both financially and “from people’s lives,” Steve Barclay wrote in the letter. The prime minister is due to announce a new strategy after Parliament’s recess this week.

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“It’s time to return to a more enabling approach,” Barclay wrote in the Telegraph. “To trust the people, return power to communities and free up business to deliver.”

The move comes as the UK police investigate allegations Johnson attended parties with government officials that broke lockdown rules during the pandemic. While the prime minister has maintained he didn’t break any rules at the gatherings, the steady stream of allegations has undermined his premiership.

Johnson named Barclay chief of staff earlier this month after a wave of staff resignations.

The country is also dealing with surging cost of living, with essentials like energy and food climbing.

“I know how frustrating the recent weeks of speculation about the workings of government have been — for the people of this country, and for political colleagues,” Barclays said. “But the Prime Minister has apologized for the things we simply did not get right , and for the way that some matters have been handled.”

The UK recently scrapped testing for fully vaccinated travelers and plans to abolish all remaining Covid regulations in two weeks if data continue their “encouraging trend,” Barclay said. Johnson plans to embark on a tour including Scotland and northeast England this week to focus on improving communities.

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