Every young person will be given a shot at an apprenticeship, Boris Johnson revealed yesterday.
The Prime Minister announced he intends to keep making major interventions to support the economy as the recession starts to bite.
He is targeting the younger generation for fear they could spend years out of work.
‘I am afraid tragically there will be many, many job losses,’ said Mr Johnson. ‘That is just inevitable because of the effect of this virus on the economy and because of the shutdown that has taken place.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that every young person will be given a shot at an apprenticeship yesterday as a means of boosting the economy as the country begins to leave the coronavirus lockdown. Pictured: Speaking in Prime Minister Questions yesterday
‘In dealing with that fall-out from coronavirus, we will be as activist and as interventionist as we have been throughout.
‘There is no other country in the world that has done as much, or few others that have done as much, as the UK in terms of putting our arms around workers with the furlough scheme, looking after companies that have run into difficulties, helping in any way that we can.
‘We will be just as interventionist in the next phase, investing in the UK economy, investing in infrastructure, taking our country forward so that we bounce back as sharply and as decisively as we can.’
Mr Johnson said it was vital to target state help by age: ‘For young people in particular – for whom the risk is I think highest of losing jobs and then being out of work for a long time – it is vital that we guarantee apprenticeships.’
The former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond called for a temporary cut to VAT, saying taxes should be lowered rather than raised in the short term. Pictured: Speaking at the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in Chantilly, near Paris, on July 17, 2019
Mr Hammond’s predecessor, George Osborne, warned that in the longer term there would have to be a return to austerity
The Prime Minister also said the environment would be at the centre of his plans for the economy, adding: ‘I want to see a lot more going into green technology, green batteries, green motor vehicles, low carbon motor vehicles of all kinds.’
His remarks came after Philip Hammond called for a temporary cut to VAT, saying taxes should be lowered rather than raised in the short term.
Appearing before the Commons Treasury committee, the Tory former chancellor said: ‘I don’t think there’s any economic logic in increasing taxes in the short term.
‘I think we all accept that the UK, as a creditworthy, mature, very large economy, can carry more debt in the context of the short term.
‘There may be a need for some short-term fiscal stimulus to the economy and that could be delivered through tax cuts – that could be a VAT cut.’
But Mr Hammond’s predecessor, George Osborne, warned that in the longer term there would have to be a return to austerity.
He said: ‘You don’t have to call it austerity, you don’t have to tell the public you’re doing it; you could try and get away with it as a government and pretend you’re not doing it.
‘But the truth is you’re going to have to. Parliament is going to have to make judgments about levels of tax, levels of spending. I raised VAT … because we had to take big steps to repair the public finances.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the daily coronavirus press conference at Number 10 Downing Street yesterday
‘You can talk as much as you like about taxing billionaires, taxing tech companies and all those things and it all adds up and helps.
‘But the big money raises are your income taxes, your national insurances, your VATs – those big central taxes that government relies on.
‘So to say “you know we’re just going to get the billionaires to pay for it” is a cop-out.’
Mr Johnson performed a U-turn yesterday to allow MPs who are over 70 or have health conditions to take part in Commons votes by proxy.
Apocalyptic predictions from the Bank and England and others show the UK is on track for the worst downturn since the Great Frost swept Europe in 1709
He defended the chaotic scenes in Parliament that have seen MPs forced to join a queue more than half a mile long to take part in socially-distanced votes.
He said remote voting would now be put in place for those who cannot attend Parliament because they are shielding or elderly.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma went into isolation last night with suspected coronavirus. He looked unwell as he addressed the Commons yesterday afternoon.