Saturday , June 6 2020

Coronavirus latest: Boris Johnson confronted by Rishi Sunak over reopening Britain | UK | News

The Chancellor of the Exchequer allegedly told Tory MPs during a conference call that he wants to open up the UK economy as quickly as possible. However, Mr Johnson had told the cabinet in early May that the government would “advance with maximum caution” when gradually easing lockdown restrictions.

Mr Sunak then told Tory MPs that he was frustrated that much of the economy remains shuttered, according to the Financial Times.

An MP who was on the call told the Financial Times that Mr Sunak said: “Somehow Greece and Italy are opening up.

“This country can’t be the only place in the world where people can’t go and have a drink in the pub.

“The single best way to help tourism in this country is to allow people to open up.”

The Government’s current plans say that pubs, hotels and restaurants will not be allowed to reopen fully until July 4 at the earliest and only if the key tests which indicate the containment of the infection are met.

Another MP told the Financial Times: “Rishi said the scientists on Sage were very cautious and that if we believed in opening up the tourism sector we had to make the case for it.”

While a different MP added that the chancellor had made a bullish tone, according to the Financial Times.

Next week will mark another big decision the Government needs to make as it aims to ease lockdown restrictions to help reopen the economy.

READ MORE: Coronavirus map LIVE: Vaccine boost as drug induces immune response

They added that Mr Sunak’s decisions had been made in accordance with social distancing rules.

According to the Financial Times, Number 10 reject reports of tensions with the chancellor calling them “imagined”.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has constructed a series of task forces to plan the next stage of business recovery.

They are specifically looking into the next phased reopening of sectors including leisure and retail.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, said there would be new focuses on economic recovery when the Government aims to put businesses back to work.

Entrepreneurs such as Luke Johnson have reportedly criticised the government for the slow pace of easing lockdown restrictions.

The chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said the sector is waiting for clear guidance from the Government.

She commented: “The retail CEOs I speak to are increasingly frustrated.

“They are keen to open, and able to do so safely.

“But there are still necessary preparations – most notably, ensuring their teams are fully prepared and trained – which cannot be started without the go-ahead from government.”


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