Lionel Barber tells Tory MPs to 'take a chill pill' over £394bn of borrowing

25 November 2020, 18:49

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Lionel Barber has said Tory MPs worried about the economy should "take a chill pill" over almost £400bn of Government borrowing this year.

The former Financial Times editor and LBC podcast host argued that the unmatched level of peacetime spending "has to be done" to avoid an economic disaster.

"Without it the economy would totally collapse," he told Eddie Mair, "you'd have record unemployed people out in the street, it would be an absolute disaster."

Some Conservative MPs have expressed concern over the extraordinary £394bn the Government has borrowed this year to save jobs and businesses during the pandemic - many anxious about the measures needed to pay this pack in future.

But Lionel said that timing for the recovery is important - but now is not the time.

Lionel Barber has told LBC's Eddie Mair that Tory MPs should "take a chill pill" over spending
Lionel Barber has told LBC's Eddie Mair that Tory MPs should "take a chill pill" over spending. Picture: LBC

"At some point you need to recalibrate, and the question is timing," he said.

"These Tory MPs should probably take a chill pill and realise that Rishi Sunak as chancellor will be taking the measures to reduce the deficit."

Asked what impact these measures will have on the political landscape, he replied: "It all depends on how quick the recovery is - and there will be a recovery - I mean the forecasts are saying 5% next year.

"I think the second thing is obviously tax increases - we know they're going to come - it was too early and I think, rightly, the chancellor has avoided making those choices until next year."

Listen to the What Next? podcast with Lionel Barber on Global Player from 20th October.

Available on Global Player on your smart speaker, iOS or Android device and online.