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Black Monday: Government's ‘tardiness’ in dealing with coronavirus is damaging economy, McDonnell says

THE government’s “tardiness” in dealing with the coronavirus is leaving the economy at severe risk, Labour warned today, ahead of tomorrow’s Budget announcement.

On what was dubbed “Black Monday,” while Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired a second emergency Cobra meeting to discuss how to contain the outbreak, further sharp falls on the markets saw billions wiped off values of shares as the number of global coronavirus cases rose past 110,000.

In Britain, the FTSE 100 had its worst day since the 2008 crash.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell called on chancellor Rushi Sunak to use his first Budget to make clear that the government will do “everything necessary” to bolster the economy.

In a pre-Budget address in London, Mr McDonnell said that Labour did not want to engage in party politics at a time of crisis.

But he said that Mr Johnson should not have waited until last week to chair his first Cobra meeting on the coronavirus.

Mr McDonnell said Mr Sunak should have made a statement 10 days ago setting out the measures they would take to support the economy. He added: “Attempting to let out reassuring noises in dribs and drabs has proved to be not enough.

“The government’s delaying of any statement of the economic plan until the Budget date itself doesn’t seem to appreciate the urgency of action that is needed to promote confidence and reassurance.

“What concerned me, and still does, is the tardiness of the Chancellor in seeking to reassure the public and markets more comprehensively that the government stands ready.”

Mr McDonnell called for the government to be “straight with people” and make it “absolutely clear” that it would back fiscal measures to overcome short-term demand-and-supply issues.

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