Keir Starmer denies claims Labour has 'gone soft' against Tories amid Covid-19 crisis.

The British state must take a bigger role in supporting businesses and the public just like it did in the aftermath of World War Two, opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said in a speech on Thursday.

Starmer, who took over as leader of the main opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party in 2020, sketched out his alternative vision for the country's post-Brexit and post-COVID future.

"I believe people are now looking for more from their government - like they were after the Second World War," Starmer said.

"They're looking for government to help them through difficult times, to provide security and to build a better future for them and their families."

He also proposed the launch of a 'recovery bond' to finance post-pandemic government spending that supports communities, jobs and businesses.

His speech comes amid criticism from some quarters that his leadership has failed to inspire the British public, even as Johnson's government oversee a stuttering response to a pandemic that has inflicted worse economic damage and more deaths on Britain than its European peers.

Next month, Conservative finance minister Rishi Sunak will set out a budget plan expected to underline the eye-watering cost of supporting the British economy through the pandemic.

Sunak is expected to defer most of the toughest decision about how to pay for that support.

Starmer argued that the crisis has paved the way for a permanently larger state, calling on Sunak to extend some of the temporary support programs for low earners and businesses forced to close by lockdown restrictions.

"To invest wisely and not to spend money we can't afford. Those are my guiding principles. But I think that COVID has shifted the axis on economic policy: both what is necessary and what is possible have changed," he said.

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