Herald on Sunday

Johnson pledges ‘greener, fairer’ Covid recovery for UK

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Boris Johnson has promised the UK’s pandemic recovery will not repeat the mistakes of the financial crisis, as he vowed to build back in a “greener, fairer, more genderneut­ral” way.

The Prime Minister used the first session of the G7 summit yesterday to rally fellow world leaders to support a comeback from Covid that benefits every quarter of society and improves opportunit­ies for all. Upbeat, he declared that the economies of the G7 nations have the potential to “bounce back very strongly” from coronaviru­s.

He warned, however: “It is vital that we don’t repeat the mistake of the last great crisis, the last great economic recession of 2008, when the recovery was not uniform across all parts of society.”

To prevent Covid from leaving a “lasting scar”, with inequaliti­es becoming entrenched, he urged G7 leaders to ensure they “level up” across their societies as they return to normality.

Johnson also signalled the recovery should be a “genderneut­ral” or “more feminine” one and underscore­d the sentiment with an announceme­nt of £430 million ($851m) in UK aid to support schooling for the world’s most vulnerable children, with an emphasis on girls’ education.

The cash will be funnelled to the Global Partnershi­p for Education, the largest fund dedicated to education in developing countries, and is set to help up to a billion children. Investing in female learning is one of the best ways to lift countries out of poverty, Johnson said, explaining why he has made girls’ education a priority during Britain’s G7 presidency.

It is a “source of internatio­nal shame” that children around the world are cheated of opportunit­ies to prosper and thrive “purely because they are female”, he said. An additional year of schooling can boost a woman’s earnings by a fifth.

Yesterday, the Duchess of Cambridge joined US First Lady Jill Biden in visiting an academy school for 4- to 11-year-olds to highlight the issue of the early years to the developmen­t of children. The money to support children’s education will, like another pledge unveiled by Johnson yesterday to donate 100 million surplus vaccines to developing countries, be funded outside of the ring-fenced internatio­nal developmen­t budget.

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