Johnson spoke with The Mail on Sunday, listing a number of measures that he saw as the way forward for his country. He promised a “building blitz of hospitals, schools, housing developments and ‘shovel-ready’ road and rail infrastructure” projects.
He also discussed an “opportunity guarantee” that aimed to protect workers who have lost out in the job market.
The prime minister responded to questions about his health by offering to perform pushups during the interview, insisting he felt “as fit as a butcher’s dog.” In shirt and tie, he got on the floor and completed a few pushups.
The performance was meant to serve as an indication that he was ready to handle whatever came up next in the fight against the coronavirus.
“The country is going to bounce forward, and I certainly feel full of beans,” Johnson insisted. “Never felt better.”
The prime minister said he planned to use a major speech on Tuesday to continue outlining his plan for the U.K.’s recovery. Many conservatives, worried about the mass unemployment that could lie ahead, have been aiming to target jobs and boost employability.
“We are going to be doubling down on leveling up,” Johnson explained. “If COVID was a lightning flash, we’re about to have the thunderclap of the economic consequences.”
He continued, “We’re going to be ready. The lesson is to act fast and we’re going to make sure that we have plans to help people whose old jobs are not there anymore to get the opportunities they need.”
Johnson had faced criticism for his response to the pandemic, with opponents claiming he was too slow to institute a lockdown and roll out widespread testing.
Despite the likely questions over the bill for such works, Johnson repeated that his government would not return to the austerity policies seen under former Prime Minister David Cameron.
Photos of Johnson’s pushup display covered the Mail on Sunday’s front page, drawing criticism.
Some people compared the photo to “something Russian President Vladimir Putin would do as a show of physical strength to instill confidence in his leadership,” The Independent reported.