Boris Johnson says fight against coronavirus demands same national spirit shown on VE day

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, and the Prime Minister has urged the country to use it as inspiration to overcome the epidemic.

Boris Johnson making his VE day message

Speaking this morning, the PM thanked Britain’s heroes and promised “our gratitude will be eternal”.

He said: “People of every age, race and background came together in one supreme effort and they paid a grievous price with over 450,000 British people laying down their lives.

“And yet they triumphed over every ordeal and hardship and because of their victory hundreds of millions of people live in peace and freedom today.”

“We are now engaged in a new struggle against the coronavirus which demands the same spirit of national endeavour.

“And that means we can’t hold the parades and street celebrations we enjoyed in the past.”

It comes as the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the country “owes so much to the generation of VE Day” and we “must do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable”.

As the government faces a mounting backlash over the impact of Covid-19 in care homes, Sir Keir insisted we “must support those who protected our country in its darkest hour”.

The UK coronavirus death toll on Thursday hit 30,615 after 539 more fatalities were recorded.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Sir Keir called for better support for the elderly.

He wrote: “We owe so much to the generation of VE Day. We must do everything we can to care and support them through the current crisis.

“We have all heard the harrowing stories of the virus spreading through care homes, with families unable to say their last goodbyes.

“The crisis in our care homes has gone on for too long, and we must do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable, many of whom protected our country in its darkest hour.”

He added: “The lesson of VE Day is that, despite the scale of the challenge, a better future is possible.”