THE Prime Minister tonight says there will be NO return to austerity as the UK recovers from the effects of the coronavirus lockdown.
Boris Johnson said he believes the country's economy will "bounce back strongly" after his Government offered an extensive package of financial support to support Brits during the pandemic.
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During Downing Street's daily press conference on the coronavirus crisis, ITV's Robert Peston questioned the economic toll of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's unprecedented package of support for struggling businesses.
He asked the Prime Minister: "Because of the unprecedented help you're giving to struggling individuals and business, national debt is rising by hundreds of millions of pounds, a record amount in peacetime.
"How great a risk is there that when we are through this crisis you will feel compelled to cut public services and move us into a new era of austerity?"
Mr Johnson replied: "I think the economy will bounce back strongly.
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"I think that this government will want to encourage that bounce back in all kinds of ways – but I've never particularly liked the term that you've just used to describe government economic policy, and it's certainly not going to be part of our approach.
"Austerity, by the way, was the term you just used, for viewers who had forgotten what Robert said."
It comes after Mr Johnson tonight said the UK is past the peak of the crisis.
There are 15,043 people in hospital at the moment battling with the disease. In total, 26,711 have now died.
PM SAYS WE'RE PAST THE PEAK
However, Mr Johnson said: "For the first time we are past the peak of this disease. We are past the peak and on downwards slope.
"We have so many reasons to be hopeful for the long term."
But he cautioned against lifting the lockdown too early in case it leads to a second wave.
"We have come through the peak – or rather we've come under what could have been a vast peak, as though we've been going through some vast alpine tunnel, and we can now see the sunlight and the pasture ahead of us," he said.
"It is vital that we don't lose control and run slap into a second and bigger mountain."
Today, we reported that Europe is suffering its worst financial crisis since World War II as France and Italy plunge into recession and Spain's economy collapses.
Latest figures today show the European economy shrank by a record 3.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
And former Bank of England rate-setter Ian McCafferty says Britain will be paying for action to save the economy for the next two decades.
Experts predicted at the beginning of the month that the lockdown is costing £2.4billion a day.
Last November, he revealed the Conservative's election manifesto ahead of the election, vowing to support working men and women.
He promised to tear up austerity and turn the spending taps on.
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