Covid: Boris Johnson will 'never be forgiven' if furlough not extended

BORIS Johnson has been warned he will “never, not ever” be forgiven for the damage his Tories wreak on the UK if they fail to extend the furlough scheme.

Speaking today at Prime Minister’s Questions, the SNP’s Ian Blackford warned there were “just two weeks left to save people’s jobs and livelihoods”.

If the Prime Minister does not U-turn and announce an extension of the full furlough scheme, he will “inflict a tsunami of unemployment” on the United Kingdom, Blackford said.

The SNP’s Westminster leader asked two questions of Johnson.

After citing BrewDogs’ founder, James Watt, Blackford said: “BrewDog is just one of thousands of businesses across Scotland and the United Kingdom demanding that the Tory Government U-turn on its reckless plans to scrap the furlough scheme. There are just two weeks left to save people’s jobs and livelihoods.

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“So, Prime Minister, in the next fortnight you have two choices: extend the full furlough scheme, or inflict a tsunami of unemployment on our people this winter. What is the Prime Minister going to choose?”

Johnson pointed to the previously unveiled Job Support Scheme. However, Watt yesterday warned this scheme was insufficient, saying it “will not protect jobs”.

The Prime Minister also cited Universal Credit which, he claimed, is in an “uplifted form” and will run as such till “next April, at least”.

Responding, Blackford said Johnson clearly didn’t “get it”. He went on: “Universal credit? Is that really what the Prime Minister is saying to those that could be saved?

“People don’t want to hear of this boasting and the excuses that we get, they want action. These half measures don’t cover it.

“We’re heading towards a Tory winter of mass unemployment, created by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, we know what the PM’s Tory colleagues are saying. The PM’s next job could be on the back benches, he just doesn’t know it yet.

“If the Prime Minister won’t U-turn on his plans to scrap furlough, does he realise he will never, not ever be forgiven for the damage he is just about to cause to people up and down Scotland?”

Johnson responded: “As I say and I’ve said many times, this Government is continuing to support people across the whole of the UK, many billions of Barnett consequentials, £5 billion in Barnett consequentials for Scotland alone.

“But the one thing I will congratulate [Blackford] on is the Scottish Nationalist Party’s support for the tiered approach, which I think is still their policy.

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“At least they’re showing some vestige of consistency in their normal gelatinous behaviour.”

Elsewhere at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, the leader of the UK Labour party, Keir Starmer, challenged Johnson on whether the UK Covid response was “governed entirely by the science”, as the Prime Minister had previously claimed.

The question came after this week’s revelation that Johnson’s Government had only implemented one of the five measures after the Sage meeting on September 21.

Furthermore, Johnson had been told that the pub curfew he did implement would only have a “marginal” impact.

Starmer said a circuit-breaker lockdown was in the “national interest”, adding: “We are at a tipping point, time is running out, maybe he can seize the moment and answer a question – this morning the Telegraph quotes senior Government sources saying the chances of the Prime Minister backing a circuit-break in the next two weeks are about 80%.

“Is that right? And if it is, why doesn’t he do it now, save lives, fix testing and protect the NHS?”

Johnson replied: “I rule out nothing, of course, in combating the virus, but we’re going to do it with the local, regional approach that can drive down and will drive down the virus if it is properly implemented.”

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Wrapping up the proceedings, the SNP MP for Glasgow North East, Anne McLaughlin, asked the Prime Minister to agree to accelerate the processing of claims for people who had been mis-sold green home deals.

She cited an example of an 83-year-old woman in her constituency, who would have to live to 106 to pay off a loan for a green homes product.

McLaughlin said the speed with which the business department were dealing with the claims was too slow, and pushed for an intervention.

Johnson said McLaughlin was “spot on”, adding: “We must accelerate the process by which these complaints are are upheld and and dealt with and compensation is delivered, if only because that is the only way to build public confidence in all the retrofitting, all the installation, all the improvements to our homes that we need to deliver across the whole of the country as part of our green industrial revolution.”

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