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Wed, 30 September 2020

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Government must ‘start answering questions’ after coronavirus 'double whammy' of most deaths and biggest recession, say Labour

Government must ‘start answering questions’ after coronavirus 'double whammy' of most deaths and biggest recession, say Labour

Sir Keir Starmer said the UK is facing a 'double whammy' from coronavirus (PA)

2 min read

The Government must “start answering questions” as to why the UK is potentially facing the worst recession and the worst death rate in Europe, say Labour.

The party’s leader Sir Keir Starmer was speaking after the latest GDP figures laid bare the scale of the UK's economic slump amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "You have to ask yourself the question 'why on earth is the Government going so wrong on this'?

"The Government needs to accept responsibility and start answering questions."

It came after Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned the country “hard times are here” as Britain officially entered the deepest recession ever recorded.

The economy shrank by an unprecedented 20.4% between April and June this year, the second quarterly decline after a 2.2% hit between January and March.

And the new statistics were published a day after Boris Johnson urged people to brace for “bumpy months ahead” following the biggest drop in employment since 2009.

Speaking in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Sir Keir said: "Nobody can avoid that fact that there was going to be an economic crisis as a result of the pandemic. We knew that.

"But we now find ourselves in a double whammy.

"We've got one of the worst death rates across Europe and now we're going to have one of the worst recessions.

"So serious questions have to be asked about the strategy the Government is adopting here.

"The United Kingdom should not be in this position.”

And Labour’s Shadow Chancellor warned the UK is "behind" other countries in terms of recovery, as she called on Mr Sunak to maintain "targeted" support once the furlough scheme ends in October. 

The opposition frontbencher told Sky News: "We are not bouncing back as strongly as other countries... we need to take a different approach.”

Her party says the Government must make the most of low interest rates to "push up demand”, adding: "The critical thing now for the Government to do is focus on growing the economy.

"While we are in low interest rate environment, if we see a dampening down of demand, if we don't see it returning to level that it really needs to be then ultimately the fiscal task for any government is going to be much bigger," she said.

"That has got to be focus of the Government now - really trying to push up demand, to maintain confidence, to keep people in work."

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