London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday described the coronavirus pandemic as a disaster and absolute nightmare for the UK and pledged to unleash a renewal akin to the rebuilding strategy deployed by former US President Franklin D Roosevelt in the wake of the Great Depression of 1929.Also Read - Covishield and Covaxin To Get Regular Market Approval From DCGI Soon, Each Dose Likely To be Capped at Rs 275

In an interview with the newly-launched Times Radio’, the UK prime minister said he had no plans of reverting to the “austerity” of the past years but instead the focus will be on investing in mega projects. Also Read - British PM Flags Vaccine Bond With India in Republic Day Message

This has been a disaster, let’s not mince our words, this has been an absolute nightmare for the country, he said. Also Read - Delhi to Lift Weekend Curfew, Curbs on Markets Soon; Final Decision Tomorrow

The country has gone through a profound shock. But in those moments you have the opportunity to change and to do things better. We really want to build back better, to do things differently, to invest in infrastructure, transport, broadband you name it, he said.

Johnson said it was time for a Rooseveltian approach to the UK , referencing the former US president’s programme of economy-boosting public works in the 1930s under his New Deal policy, including new spending on schools.

He said UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will be setting out further details in a Spending Review expected later this year.

You have to be careful and the Chancellor will be setting out our plans in the Spending Review in the autumn. But in the end what you can’t do at this moment is go back to what people called austerity, it wasn’t actually austerity but people called it austerity, and I think that would be a mistake, he said.

Johnson also dismissed the idea of holding an inquiry into the scale of COVID-19 deaths in the UK, which has seen over 43,000 deaths from the deadly virus.

I happen to think that the moment is not right now, in the middle of really getting things going, still dealing with the pandemic, when everybody is flat out, he said.

I don’t think the moment is right now for consecrating a huge amount of official time to all that, but we are learning lessons the whole time and we obviously will draw the right conclusions for the future, he said.

Times Radio’, launched by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK group, went live on Monday with the exclusive interview with the UK prime minister and will be competing with the BBC’s radio news programmes.