Wealthy should pay for furlough of workers: Labour Shadow Home Secretary

3 May 2020, 09:10

By Seán Hickey

The question how government payouts will be repaid to the exchequer has come up often – this Labour MP says the rich should pay.

Nick Thomas-Symonds is the Shadow Home Secretary and Labour MP for Torfaen and he joined Andrew Castle to discuss the UK's exit strategy for lockdown and for Brexit, and whether or not we should still be planning to leave the EU at the end of the year.

Andrew moved the topic of conversation to the furlough scheme, on which Mr Thomas-Symonds has been vocal in the past few months. He asked if the Labour MP supposed "that furloughing should continue past the current period".

The Shadow Home Secretary claimed that "we've been calling for the extension of the scheme for as long as the lockdown lasts" and unprovoked, added "I think those with the broadest shoulders should bear the largest burden".

Mr Thomas-Symonds told Andrew that "we can't have austerity, we can't have a situation where the very workers who have kept the country running are the ones who have to pay for this".

The Shadow Home Secretary suggested the rich should pay off furlough debts
The Shadow Home Secretary suggested the rich should pay off furlough debts. Picture: PA

Andrew asked the Labour MP about unemployment after Covid-19, which could be an issue particularly in areas such as his own constituency. He asked how the government will "put the economy on a decent footing if there's going to be so much unemployment".

Mr Thomas-Symonds told Andrew that the "priority is to make sure government schemes cover everybody who needs them" and this is what he campaigns for as Shadow Home Secretary.

"My message to my constituents is that they should not be paying the burden" the Labour MP revealed, adding that critical workers that have kept the country running during the lockdown should in no circumstances be faced with paying back furlough schemes and small business loans.

Pushed on what he suggested instead of austerity, Mr Thomas-Symonds stated that "in due course we will set up a national plan" and Labour "will be setting this out in the months and years ahead".

"A public health emergency such as this will impact our politics in the future" the Shadow Home Secretary stated, hinting that there could be a sea change in Westminster post-coronavirus.

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