"We are entering one of the most severe recessions this country has ever seen," Rishi Sunak warned today.
He is on the morning media round following yesterday’s mini-budget in which he unveiled a £30bn plan to prevent mass unemployment.
He warned that jobs are at risk unless economic activity returns to normal and described every job loss as a "tragedy".
He was asked on BBC Breakfast if there was a level of unemployment he would consider acceptable, to which he replied: “If you’re asking me if I can protect every single job of course the answer is no. Is unemployment going to rise? Are people going to lose their jobs? Yes.
“The scale of this is significant. We are entering one of the most severe recessions this country has ever seen.
"That is of course going to have a significant impact on unemployment and job losses.
“It would be absolutely foolhardy for me to sit here and give you precise numbers or forecasts or what is or isn’t a measure of acceptability when we are living in a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty.”
Asked on Sky News if everyone on furlough would be able to get back to work he replied: “No. I’ve been very clear that we are not going to be able to protect every single job. It would be wrong of me to pretend otherwise.
“There are going to be difficult times ahead and as you’ve acknowledged there are forecasts of people predicting significant levels of unemployment.
“That weighs very heavily on me which is why I wanted to act yesterday, with a comprehensive plan to provide opportunities for people, protect as many existing jobs as we have but also provide people with the opportunities and the skills they need to get new jobs, to look for new opportunities.”
The Chancellor said the country had moved through the “acute” phase of the crisis in which large swathes of the economy were closed but added: “We won't know the exact shape of that recovery for a little while - how will people respond to the new freedoms of being able to go out and about again.
"We have to rediscover behaviours that we've essentially unlearned over the last few months.
"But unless activity returns to normal, those jobs are at risk of going which is why we acted in the way that we did."