John Harris

Journalist & Author

Now Britain stands at the crossroads. Will we choose dread or hope? | John Harris

Our politicians are lacking in imagination, so it is up to us to make the case for the type of country we want to live in

Boris Johnson may be calling for a return to offices and hoping for a return to “significant normality” by Christmas, but the feeling of dread hanging over this strange, uneasy summer is becoming inescapable. A second wave of Covid-19 now seems to be a racing certainty. And a gathering avalanche of numbers attests to an economic disaster that is probably already upon us.

An economic model in which people work in shops to spend money in other shops has now surely been tested to destruction. April saw national output drop by a chilling 20.4%, and although economists were reported to be anticipating growth of 5.5% in May the actual figure turned out to be an anaemic 1.8%. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, another big coronavirus outbreak in the UK could result in an unemployment rate of 15%. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 650,000 people have lost their jobs since lockdown began, and vacancies are at their lowest level since records began two decades ago. Up to 3m UK jobs are now reckoned to be at risk from companies’ unsustainable debts; in response to calls for the government to consider a programme of bailouts, Rishi Sunak – whose furlough scheme is set to close in October – has so far said no.

Related: Labour will win by changing minds – not pandering to rightwing voters | Lynsey Hanley

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This entry was posted on Sunday, July 19th, 2020 at 10:17 pm and is filed under Guardian RSS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. « The return of benefit sanctions won’t help the Covi​d-19 jobs​ crisis | John Harris | We fixate on the decline of the high street, but the real issue is Amazon | John Harris »
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