Former UK chancellor pushes to reopen economy

Former British Chancellor Philip Hammond | Takaai Iwabu/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former UK chancellor pushes to reopen economy

UK and EU could strike an interim trade deal that gives some breathing space, says Philip Hammond.


4/20/20, 9:13 PM CET

Updated 4/20/20, 9:15 PM CET

LONDON — The U.K. should start reopening its economy now and assume the coronavirus will continue to circulate in the country for quite some time, former U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond said Monday.

Speaking on a webinar organized by the think tank Chatham House, Hammond said the U.K. should get ready for new business models, the failure of some firms, the loss of jobs, and changes to government priorities — warning it might reduce emphasis on tackling climate change.

“We’ve got to start reopening the economy and I think the sensible compromise is to reopen it around a set of conditions which assume that, for the time being, we are coexisting with this virus rather than conquering it,” he said.

Public and private signals from the U.K. government suggest it intends to pursue a more cautious approach, with significant concern among political and scientific advisers about a second peak in infections causing more damage, both to public health and to the economy.

Hammond said the government should look two or three weeks ahead, and start engaging with businesses on how the economy will be reopened, even though some restrictions will have to continue for some time. “It is vital that business is ready for the green light” when the government decides to give it,

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