Andy Richardson: We’re in for a long, hard road

Good old Gazza, a man who can be relied upon to cheer up the nation.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak

When he appeared by video link on TV alongside Peter Shilton, lamenting the death of the great Maradonna, he told Shilts that Maradonna’s Hand Of God goal had been the making of the England goal-stopper. Around the nation, people laughed, while Shilts fumed through the rest of the Good Morning Britain interview, much as he sulked when Maradonna outwitted him.

The new tiers have been rolled out across the UK and hospitality businesses are working out whether or not they’ll survive.

Ordinary families will have to make a similar choice when Christmas comes and it’s five-day suspension of the rules. There’s little doubt that a huge number of families who congregate over the festive season will subsequently live with regret, as they provide a fertile breeding ground for Covid.

Having worked so hard and sacrificed so much to bring the second wave under control, we might be looking at the start point for a third. It’ll be an experience that will bring little festive cheer as the NHS struggles to cope with the pressure.

As businesses benefit from their links with the Government and lucrative mates-rates contracts for PPE, those on the frontline are looking at a wage freeze. Yes, Rishi Sunak faces tough choices, but most will sympathise with the professions that have been lauded through the pandemic for keeping us safe and now face a fall in the value of their pay. Yet context is important. Just as March 2021 marked the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, so we are now at the beginning of the economic crisis as unemployment spirals, consumer confidence plummets and we look at a collapse of our economic output, which will take years to fix.

With the choppy waters of Brexit on the horizon and a harsh winter ahead, we’re in for a long, hard road. The imminent vaccines will alleviate some of the troubles we’d otherwise face, but we ought not to underestimate the challenge. Covid is presenting the worst economic slide in 300 years, making the financial crash of 2008 look like a tea party.

The pub sector will be decimated, there are already record levels of borrowing while taxes will inevitably rise. With Brexit imminent and our contribution to overseas aid falling, our role on the world stage will diminish. Even Gazza can’t get us out of this one.

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