Thursday morning news briefing: Chancellor shows his backbone

Danny Boyle
·5-min read
Come dine with me: Rishi Sunak serves meals at Wagamama after delivering his mini-Budget
Come dine with me: Rishi Sunak serves meals at Wagamama after delivering his mini-Budget

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Sunak serves up bold statement for uncertain times

It is finally time to set Britain's caged economy free. That was the clear message from Rishi Sunak, the Treasury's resident hawk, as he flapped his wings in the face of overcaution not just from the Department of Health - but Number 10 itself. Notable for its lack of jargon and brevity, at just 25 minutes, the Chancellor delivered his rescue package with bullet-point succinctness. His radical £30billion rescue package for jobs and the economy will see restaurant meals subsidised by the Government. Ordinarily, Tories would baulk at the idea of such a spending splurge. Camilla Tominey writes that Mr Sunak put the compassionate back into Conservative. Parliamentary Sketchwriter Michael Deacon watched Labour not knowing what to do about the rising star. But Allister Heath warns that Mr Sunak's next challenge is to unleash an entrepreneurial revolution and create millions of genuine, unsubsidised jobs.

Mr Sunak announced a VAT cut for the hospitality industry, stamp duty holiday, restaurant discounts and a suite of measures to boost hiring in his mini-Budget. This is how the half-price dining scheme will work. Our at-a-glance guide explains everything you need to know about how all the measures will affect you. These will be the winners and losers. And Matt jokes about the downsides of half-price meals in today's cartoon.

Sage advisers sidelined as 'secretive' unit takes over

The Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies appears to have been sidelined as ministers take more direct control of the coronavirus crisis. Scientists expressed concern, as an expanded Joint Biosecurity Centre will take a more prominent role and Sage - led by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, and Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer - will meet less frequently, as its subgroups advise the Government directly. Downing Street has appointed a senior spy to lead the new centre. Health Editor Laura Donnelly explains fears that the "secretive" unit's work and staffing is "shrouded in mystery".

Working week is now just three days, ONS reveals

British workers are now effectively working a three-day week compared to before the pandemic, new Government data suggests. The Office for National Statistics published figures showing early insights into the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market. Social Affairs Editor Gabriella Swerling reports how the data tracks the effects of the home-working revolution, resulting from the national lockdown. For tips on staying productive, read our guide to working from home successfully.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today's other headlines

Whitehall payoff | Sir Mark Sedwill was given an almost £250,000 payoff to step down from his role as the UK's most senior civil servant. A letter signed by Boris Johnson reveals his award in "consideration of his employment situation". It came as Sir Mark added to speculation he had been ousted from his role as he insisted he did not resign from the post.  

Around the world: Dystopia greets us again

In Melbourne, millions are returning to lockdown to fight an upsurge that is seeing more than 100 new cases reported each day. As panic buyers strip shelves, read Cristian Bonetto's account of closed borders and rationed toilet paper. View our gallery for more global images.

A loaf of bread is passed between officials in protective suits in the Australian city of Melbourne  
A loaf of bread is passed between officials in protective suits in the Australian city of Melbourne

Comment and analysis

Editor's choice: Features and arts

  1. Donald Trump | His smarter sister who holds the key to the family's secrets

  2. Rock in a hard place | Farewell to Kerrang!, lone champion of working-class metalheads

  3. Olympia Lightning Bolt | Welcome to the crazy celebrity name game

Business and money briefing

WTO race | Liam Fox, the ex-international trade secretary, is Britain's candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation. Downing Street has nominated the prominent Brexiteer to replace the Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevedo as director-general. These are his competitors.  

Sport briefing

The £70m question | The world's most expensive goalkeeper has five years remaining on a seven-year contract. Should Chelsea take the pain and move on? Chief Football Writer Sam Wallace examines how the club can extricate itself from a costly Kepa Arrizabalaga problem.  

And finally... for this morning's downtime

Floor Is Lava | An idiotic children's playground game is now 2020's hottest game show. But it takes true genius - plus 100,000 gallons of slime - to look this stupid. Chris Stokel-Walker examines how Netflix's health and safety nightmare became a reality.