Tuesday evening news briefing: UK faces ‘severe recession’

Kelly C. Gamble

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‘No guarantee of immediate economic bounceback’

The Chancellor’s language was stark. The UK is facing “a severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen”, Rishi Sunak warned this afternoon. He said the Government is not counting on the “V-shaped” recovery many had been hoping for when the country was locked down to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “It is not obvious that there will be an immediate bounceback,” Mr Sunak told the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, adding the “jury is out” on the “degree of long-term scarring”. Read his full comments. It comes after figures showed the number of Britons claiming unemployment benefits soared to the highest level since 1996. Economics Editor Russell Lynch writes that Britain is “plunging headfirst into a winter of jobs discontent”. But a small silver lining: people forced to work from home due to the lockdown have been handed tax breaks to buy office equipment.

Meanwhile, new data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of people in the UK who have lost their lives to coronavirus has passed 40,000. But, as these charts show, the true death toll could already be considerably higher. As it emerged that 15,000 care home residents have now died from Covid-19, providers warned of a “stark disconnect” between government rhetoric and reality. Use our postcode search tool to follow how the disease is spreading in your area.

Teaching union admits hardline stance a ‘negotiation’

The boss of Britain’s biggest teachers’ union has admitted that her hardline stance is just a “negotiating position” after the Government left them out of the decision-making process for reopening schools. Downing Street is still unable to say if primary schools will be expected to accept more pupils from June 1. The National Education Union’s “public” position is that they are not engaging with the plans. But joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted revealed the stance is “punishment” for the Government. With tensions rising, Education Editor Camilla Turner has more details from an internal union meeting.

EasyJet cyber attack: What to do if you are affected

The travel details of nine million easyJet customers – along with the credit card data of more than 2,000 passengers – have been exposed by a “highly sophisticated” cyber attack. The airline said it would contact customers whose details were accessed in the coming days. If you think you might have been affected, read our guide to protecting yourself. And, after the Government announced plans for an “air bridge” to allow foreign travel this summer, Nick Trend argues that the “half-baked scheme has only brought more confusion for holidaymakers”.

PS: Planning better times ahead? Find your dream trip with our guide to the best adventures on earth. For unlimited access to our journalism, try our subscription offer. Sign up for a free one-week trial – then save 50pc on your first three months to read our articles without leaving home.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Comment and analysis

You Are Not Alone – Surviving coronavirus lockdown

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Business and money briefing

‘End bumper paydays’ | Big businesses rescued by the Bank of England and the Treasury will have to clamp down on bumper payouts for bosses and shareholders as they pay back their debt. Tom Rees reports that companies wishing to borrow money beyond May 2021 will have to promise to show “restraint” on remuneration while repaying the debt.  

Video: What are the hydroxychloroquine risks?

Medical experts have expressed concern after Donald Trump revealed he started taking hydroxychloroquine despite the risk of dangerous side-effects and lack of data to support its use as a Covid-19 treatment. The US president said he requested it from the White House physician. Watch the video below explaining everything we know about the drug and its risks.

Also in the news today

Brexit boost | The Government has said it will eliminate tariffs on 60pc of global imports – including white goods and Christmas trees – after the Brexit transition period on December 31. Brussels Correspondent James Crisp writes that it is a clear signal that the transition period will not be extended – despite trade negotiations being deadlocked.  

World news: The one story you must read today…

Israel’s secret weapon | For years, the squad toiled beneath Lebanon’s border, punching through rock with crude drills as they edged closer to Israeli soil. The tunnel, half a mile long and 260ft deep, was the work of Hizbollah, the Lebanese militant group. Had it not been discovered, Israel says the tunnel would have been used to kidnap soldiers – or launch a shock invasion. Read James Rothwell‘s dispatch from Galilee.

And finally… for this evening’s downtime

‘This is the history of people we usually ignore’ | “Slavery is part of our history,” says David Olusoga. The historian and presenter tells Paul Kendall why he chose 10 Guinea Street, Bristol, for the new series of A House Through Time. Read the full interview

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