Downing Street split

Sunak calls for speedier lifting of lockdown

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak: questioning policy

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is putting pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lift the lockdown more quickly as he calls for firms to start paying at least a fifth of furlough wages.

Sources say that in a conversation with Tory MPs Mr Sunak expressed his concern at the damage being done to a number of sectors and how much the taxpayer could be expected to prop up the economy.

The Treasury borrowed £62.1bn in April, the biggest single monthly figure in history, as tax revenues crashed and spending surged.

He is said to be questioning the government’s response to some of the scientific advice and feels that Britain may be taking too cautious an approach, the FT reports.

Mr Johnson has already been criticised by some for easing restrictions and dropping the Stay Home slogan in favour of Stay Alert.

However, the Prime Minister, who fell victim to the virus himself, has insisted on a gradual approach.

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In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon’s government is being even more cautious, with freedom of movement more restricted than in England and businesses expected to reopen later.

Mr Sunak is also said to want businesses to pay at least a fifth of the wages of furloughed workers in coming months.

The scheme will be extended from June to October and companies will be asked to “start sharing” the cost from the start of August.

The Times reports that the Treasury has devised a scheme which would see employers cover between 20% and 30% of a worker’s wage.

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