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Fri, 29 May 2020

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The Breakfast Briefing: What do MPs really think about the Government’s coronavirus response?

The Breakfast Briefing: What do MPs really think about the Government’s coronavirus response?

Nearly three-quarters of MPs believe taxes will need to rise to fund public services - but just four in ten (42%) say spending cuts are the answer.

3 min read

Your essential morning guide to what’s moving in Westminster, from the PoliticsHome team.

This morning’s figures from the Office for National Statistics offer a glimpse of the crisis to come. They show that UK unemployment rose by 50,000 to hit 1.35 million in the three months to March 2020, as the first effects of the coronavirus lockdown were felt in the UK economy.

The majority of the ONS’s interviews took place “prior to the implementation of the coronavirus (Covid-19) social distancing measures”, meaning they give us just a glimpse of the sharp rise in unemployment expected amid the shutdown of vast swathes of the economy. 

But it’s clear that Covid-19 is already having a profound impact on the shape of the UK economy (indeed, the Resolution Foundation warns today that it’s the youngest who will pay the heaviest price). 

So how should the state respond to this unprecedented challenge? And what will Britain look like after the pandemic has passed? It’s a question The House and PoliticsHome put to a 75-strong panel of MPs, weighted to reflect the make-up of the House of Commons. 

MPs are generally split on the performance of key ministers

The findings - published today - make for fascinating reading. Nearly three-quarters of MPs believe taxes will need to rise to fund public services - but just four in ten (42%) say spending cuts are the answer. Almost two-thirds want a pay boost for NHS and care workers, with more than half (56%) backing the same move for other key workers like bus and delivery drivers, cleaners and refuse workers. There’s grounds for hope, too, in the finding that seven in ten MPs believe Brits “will be kinder to each other” after the pandemic. 

The usual suspects get a good kicking - 87% believe Donald Trump has not performed well during the pandemic (PolHome would love to meet the 13%), and nearly two-thirds (63%) say the media has fared badly (thanks, guys).

MPs are generally split on the performance of key ministers - with Boris Johnson himself performing well in the eyes of 48% of those asked and badly for 49%. Despite the string of briefings against him in recent days, just 34% believe Health Secretary Matt Hancock has performed poorly.

A clear winner in this crisis so far is Rishi Sunak, the MP survey finds. Sixty percent of those polled believe the Chancellor, in the job for only a few weeks before the pandemic hit, has performed well, with just a quarter (25%) rating him poorly. Given today’s grim ONS figures, he’ll need all the support he can get. 


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Read the most recent article written by Matt Honeycombe-Foster - Coronavirus: Rishi Sunak vows fresh help for self-employed as firms take on more furlough costs

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