Ex-Labour and Tory Chancellors Osborne and Darling debate Sunak's Covid-19 response

14 April 2020, 20:52 | Updated: 15 April 2020, 08:56

By Seán Hickey

Former Chancellors George Osborne and Alistair Darling both appeared live on LBC to discuss how the government could restart the economy after it was warned that it may shrink by 35%.

The former Tory and Labour Chancellors joined Iain Dale following current incumbent Rishi Sunak's press conference on his plans to get the economy moving again after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

The three took apart the current Chancellor's Covid-19 economic lifeline for businesses and individuals and how they expect the financial packages to capitalise as the UK ventures deeper into the coronavirus pandemic.

George Osborne began by insisting that Rishi Sunak has his work cut out for him at the moment, quipping that "there is no precedent for a third of the economy disappearing" and that Mr Sunak couldn't be expected to know exactly what to do in such a situation.

The former chancellors said that Rishi Sunak has his work cut out for him
The former chancellors said that Rishi Sunak has his work cut out for him. Picture: PA

Lord Darling chimed in here and although agreeing that Mr Sunak has a disaster on his plate, he pointed out that just because he has made announcements for spending, doesn't mean that it will happen quickly.

"There is a huge difference between announcing these schemes, and the schemes giving out the money," he said.

The Labour peer made the case that it isn't an easy feat to mobilise such massive reserves of cash, especially in the current situation. "It inevitably takes time, especially when staff are working from home" Mr Darling said.

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Mr Osborne pointed out that "if this is emergency support, it needs to be there right now" and sympathised with business owners struggling to stay afloat during this time because of a delay in the government support package.

The former Conservative MP suggested that the government should guarantee smaller loans in order to speed up the process and keep business owners in the economy during this time.

Imagining the impact of the outbreak on how politics will operate, George Osborne could imagine the debate becoming centred around the coronavirus response and the economics of it and what could have been done differently.

It was a fascinating listen - hear it in full at the top of the page.