John McDonnell urges Chancellor to ‘go fast and act big’

Friday, March 20, 2020

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said the UK has been “too slow” in providing economic support amid the coronavirus crisis.

He urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to follow the example of other European countries and unleash more money for individuals who have been financially hit, or risk recession.

Mr Sunak is due to unveil an emergency package aimed at protecting workers' jobs and wages later today, following his initial “unprecedented” measures announced earlier in the week.

He has been under pressure from Labour, unions and even senior Conservative MPs to do more to help workers and the stalling economy weather the crisis.

And today his opposition counterpart told talkRADIO he hoped Mr Sunak will “learn the lessons” of countries such as Austria and Denmark.

“As soon as they identified someone with Coronavirus, they then put in mechanisms to make sure that there was financial support going into companies that would keep people at work and then if they went sick, they had proper sick pay.

“And they did that in a couple of weeks…We've taken too long, we've been too slow,” he told Mike Graham.

He went on to say that Mr Sunak, who has already promised £350 billion to support struggling businesses, now needs to “go fast” and “act big” to support individuals too.

“In places like Denmark or Austria, they're saying to companies, keep your staff on, keep paying wages, and we will pay our contribution from the state.

“I'm saying, it has to be big - 90 per cent should come from the state, 10 per cent from the employers.

“In that way, you’ll keep people at work. Because if you don’t keep people in work, they’re not earning the wages, they’re not spending the money and we’ll have a second wave hit us and that really will be a recession.”

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