Rishi Sunak cuts US trip short – Chancellor rushes back to UK as Omicron chaos explodes

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The Chancellor had originally planned to arrive back from the trip on Saturday. However, he will now fly back on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, an official said Sunak was due to discuss possible new support measures for businesses hardest hit by the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The Chancellor has faced accusations that he has been missing in action in recent days, as Covid infections rise to new records.

Labour urged Mr Sunak – who has been in California – to “leave Hollywood and come back to reality”.

Pat McFadden, the Shadow Treasury Minister, told MPs today: “Why did he decide to proceed with a trip to California on Tuesday when it was already clear that UK businesses were struggling to cope with what the Prime Minister himself has called a ‘tidal wave’ of Omicron.”

The hospitality industry is currently reeling from a wave of pre-Christmas cancellations as Covid cases rise to record levels.

The Treasury has now confirmed that he would return sooner than anticipated.

He and his team held talks with a range of hospitality and business organisations on Thursday.

Mr Sunak said in a statement: “This Government has done whatever it takes at every stage to support lives and livelihoods throughout this pandemic – and of course we will continue to do so.

“We understand that this is a concerning time for businesses.

“Myself and my wider team met with business representatives earlier today, listened to their concerns and will continue to work with industry leaders over the coming days.

“To keep safeguarding our economic recovery and the lives and livelihoods of the British people our priority is now to make sure everyone has the opportunity to get boosted now.”

More to follow…

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