The British Chancellor Rishi Sunak schooled Andrew Marr after the BBC host cited reports that Britain’s economy is likely to suffer the worst damage from the COVID-19 crisis of any country in the developed world. Mr Sunak hit back at these claims, and insisted Marr should have read the full report, which showed Britain would experience the best comeback of any country. The senior cabinet figure said that “over the next two years, we will emerge at the top of the list” among the large world economies.
Reports this week of an economic recession sparked fears in the UK, following news that the country’s economy shrank by 20.4 percent in April – the largest monthly contraction on record.
This was followed up by a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showing that a slump in Britain’s GDP would outstrip the drops in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the US.
However, Mr Sunak hit back at claims of economic collapse, insisting that the same report showed Britain would bounce back better than any of its economic rivals.
Marr told him: “Besides from having the worst per capita death rate of almost any country in the world, the OECD thinks we will have the worst economic outcome as this unwinds.”
JUST IN: ‘Monday will mark the start of high streets springing back to life’
The Chancellor responded: “That is not how I would characterise the OECD report.
“They did say the impact of our economy this year would be particularly significant when compared to our large economy peers.
“The reason for that is because we are, unlike most other economise, a predominately services economy.
“That means, of course, we will be more impacted by shutting down that activity, including retail, consumption, hospitality.
Mr Sunak defended his response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the actions he took as Chancellor “were difficult but it would have been worse had we not acted like we did”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded to the OECD report by claiming that Britain could “bounce back” from the crisis.
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has said this week that he will be “ready to take action” to help the UK economy weather the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Sunak also suggested this morning that he was very much in favour of reducing the two-metre social distancing rule, as a means to boost economic output.