Coronavirus lockdown could last until JUNE – but Chancellor is pushing for an earlier exit so people can go back to work – The Sun
BRITAIN could stay in lockdown until June, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak is pushing to have measures eased by next month to save the economy.
Up to two million people could lose their jobs and the UK is looking at the worst economic slump in 300 years.
Whitehall sources told the Daily Mail Mr Sunak fears Brits have "over interpreted" the lockdown advice, and believe only designated key workers should be working.
They said he wants to "strengthen the message" that people should be trying to work unless their entire sector has been shut down or they cannot practise social distancing on the job.
Mr Sunak will back a three week extension of the lockdown, expected to be announced tomorrow, but said he is "deeply troubled" by the economic impact.
As the UK death toll hit 12,107, the full scale of the Covid-19 meltdown emerged in government figures which predicted the country’s economy may be slashed by a record 35 per cent by June.
Unemployment could rocket to 3.4 million and the deficit may spiral to £218billion this year.
The figures, produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility, predict the worst GDP slump in a single quarter since records began in 1908.
Mr Sunak tried to rebuke rumours there was a split between Cabinet ministers over the lockdown last night.
He said: "Right now the single most important thing we can do for the health of our economy is to protect the health of our people.
"It is not a case of choosing between economy and public health – comment sense tells us that doing so would be self defeating."
But opinions are divided in Cabinet – with Health Secretary Matt Hancock pushing for the lockdown to last until at least June.
Other ministers, including Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Business Secretary Alok Sharma, Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey are said to be backing Mr Sunak to open the country back up sooner.
The International Monetary Fund has also warned the global economy will suffer its deepest plunge since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
One in ten small firms plans to close or sell up, the Federation of Small Businesses warned, while one in five aims to downsize.
The Chancellor said yesterday: "This is an unprecedented times and unprecedented crisis and that called for an unprecedented economic response.
"So in that sense, it's not surprising to see some of these figures, as it’s unlike anything we’ve dealt with before."
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