Boris Johnson grand plans have been buffeted by events beyond his control | Pool photo by Jack Hill/AFP via Getty Images
5 things the UK’s ‘coronavirus budget’ can deliver
Chancellor Rishi Sunak can delay some spending, but he must lay the groundwork for long-term plans.
Updated 3/10/20, 8:12 PM CET
LONDON — It was supposed to be Boris Johnson’s big post-Brexit budget, the moment when manifesto promises of an infrastructure revolution and the “leveling up” of the U.K.’s regions were underpinned by cold, hard cash.
Instead, when Johnson’s freshly minted chancellor, Rishi Sunak, stands up in the House of Commons on Wednesday, only one word will dominate the headlines: coronavirus.
With stock markets sliding amid fears of a serious slowdown in global economic growth, Johnson and Sunak’s grand plans have been buffeted by events beyond their control.
But despite the uncertainty and the delays for some of the bigger tax-and-spend decisions, there are still things Sunak can do now to “provide immunity” for the economy (as former Chancellor George Osborne put it) from the worst impacts of coronavirus — and to lay the groundwork for the government’s long-term plans.
“There are two things he needs to do,” said Tim Pitt, who worked as a special adviser to the previous two chancellors and is now a partner at business advisory firm Flint.
“He’ll want to show [he’s got a] grip on the coronavirus issues immediately. But he’ll also want to show some progress on the wider leveling-up agenda: more infrastructure spending,