(Reuters) - British finance minister Rishi Sunak warned that a further lockdown would cripple both the economy and society, in an interview with The Sun newspaper, stating that lockdowns have a very strong economic and social impact.
"Having a difficult economy has an impact on both our ability to fund public services like the NHS but also on individual people's long-term health outcomes," Sunak said, according to the newspaper bit.ly/3jxkj5k.
Sunak spoke about his dissatisfaction with the 10 pm curfew on pubs and restaurants saying that, “Of course it’s frustrating. I know it’s difficult and wish we didn’t have to do these things.”
He added that ministers were divided on the issue but encouraged Brits to abide by the rules.
Sunak had last month announced a new jobs support scheme that would help firms employ people on shorter hours, but warned he could not save every business or job.
The British government launched a new employment programme on Monday aimed at helping those left jobless due to the COVID-19 pandemic to get back into work.
Sunak in his interview expressed full support for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying that Johnson faces difficult decisions and “awful trade-offs”.
“The fact that he can do it and maintain that sense of optimism is extraordinary,” he added.
Sunak also defended Britain’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme stating that the scheme helped to save two million jobs and kick-start the economy.
He added that he would not remain silent in his fight against future lockdowns and implored his fellow ministers to strive for normality in the face of COVID-19, according to the newspaper.
Sunak’s interview came ahead of his speech to the virtual Conservative Party conference on Monday.
Reporting by Rebekah Mathew in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin
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