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Boris Johnson calls for ‘spirit of national endeavour’ to beat virus in VE Day letter


A woman is seen in front of the statue of soldier 'Tommy', a war statue by artist Ray Lonsdale, after making a sign with pebbles during sunrise on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, in Seaham, on May 8, 2020. (REUTERS/Lee Smith)
A woman is seen in front of the statue of soldier 'Tommy', a war statue by artist Ray Lonsdale, after making a sign with pebbles during sunrise on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, in Seaham, on May 8, 2020. (REUTERS/Lee Smith)

BORIS JOHNSON on Friday (8) compared Britain’s battle with coronavirus to the country’s fight against the Axis powers in World War II, in a letter to veterans to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The prime minister told veterans they were “quite simply the greatest generation of Britons who ever lived” and that they would never be forgotten.

“On this anniversary, we are engaged in a new struggle against the coronavirus which demands the same spirit of national endeavour that you exemplified 75 years ago,” he said in the letter.

“We cannot pay our tribute with the parades and street celebrations we enjoyed in the past; your loved ones may be unable to visit in person.

“But please allow us, your proud compatriots, to be the first to offer our gratitude, our heartfelt thanks and our solemn pledge: you will always be remembered.”

The UK government changed its early May public holiday — usually held on the first Monday of the month — to Friday to allow people to mark the 75th anniversary of the 1945 Victory in Europe celebrations.

But a nationwide lockdown introduced in late March to curb the coronavirus pandemic and which remains in place scuppered plans for street parties and veterans parades.

With more than 30,000 dead, more people in Britain have lost their lives as a result of the outbreak than any other country in Europe and Johnson on Thursday told ministers the government must ease restrictions with “maximum caution”.

He is expected to address the nation on Sunday evening to set out a roadmap for lifting the lockdown over the coming months.

Meanwhile Britons have been urged to join a national singalong from their doorsteps — of Vera Lynn’s wartime classic “We’ll Meet Again” — and to hold 1940s-style tea parties at home to mark VE Day.

Queen Elizabeth II will make a televised address to the nation later on Friday to mark the day the Nazis surrendered, bringing an end to World War II in Europe.