THE government will not consider delaying Brexit to soften the impact of coronavirus on companies.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak told Sky News he was ready to take “targeted measures” in his budget on Wednesday to help businesses get through the outbreak, which could see as many as a fifth of employees unable to work.
And he said Government was ready to deliver "whatever action is required" to deal with the crisis.
Ministers are reportedly preparing for the death toll from Covid-19 in the UK to reach as many as 100,000.
Supermarket shelves are being left bare of soap, sanitary products and basic medicines as panic buying grips the nation.
And former Tory chancellor Philip Hammond said the spread of the virus has the potential to push the UK into recession, and suggested it could pose a greater risk to the economy than a no-deal Brexit .
The ex-MP told the Sunday Times the Government needs to address a "critical and structural weakness in just-in-time supply chains", which he said have been exposed by the impact of coronavirus on businesses.
But Mr Sunak said delaying the end of the Brexit transition period was not an option.
“I think very clearly the PM has been clear we don't want to extend the transition period, he said.
“I think people are fed up of having more delays and having people not doing what they say in this regard.”
He added: “When it comes to new trading relationships, that work has been going on for quite a while.
“We've been very clear and transparent with business about those and we are actively helping them to manage them.”
Mr Sunak also repeatedly refused to say whether his Budget on Wednesday would stick to the spending rules set out in the party’s manifesto before the election.
He’s expected to use the speech to unveil a £643 million package of investment to help rough sleepers, £100m a year to fight money laundering, and a new neonatal pay and leave entitlement for parents of sick newborn babies.
But shadow chancellor John McDonnell condemned the Government's investment policies, saying they are "nowhere near the scale we need".
He told the BBC he is concerned the Budget will not deliver "what we need" for the NHS, as he warned the country faces three emergencies: coronavirus, a "crisis" in public services and the "existential threat" of climate change.
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