A second UK-wide lockdown could cause “permanent damage” to the economy, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned.
With Labour leader Keir Starmer calling for a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown, Mr Sunak is one of several government ministers favouring a softer approach.
Earlier this week, the government unveiled a three-tier system for England, determining a series of measures for medium, high and very high risk areas. Liverpool was the only area placed in the ‘very high’ category, forcing the closure of hospitality and leisure businesses. But Manchester and Lancashire could join in the very near future.
It comes as a YouGov poll found more than two-thirds of people would support the idea of the two-week national lockdown.
Speaking to MPs on Wednesday, the Chancellor said: “The cost of doing so are not abstract, they are real.
“They can be counted in jobs lost, businesses closed and children’s education harmed.”
He added: “They can be measured in the permanent damage done to our economy which will undermine our long-term ability to fund our NHS and our valued public services, and they can be measured in the increase in long-term health conditions that unemployment causes.”
Labour’s shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodd, argued that blocking a two-week lockdown would ‘not make sense for the health of the population and it does not make sense for the economy’.
She said: “If we continue as we are without taking control of the public health situation then we’ll see a worse situation for jobs and businesses in our country.
“If we continue as we are without taking control of the public health situation then we’ll see a worse situation for jobs and businesses in our country.”