House takes up $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill, as Trump blasts holdout congressman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Armed with hand sanitizer and discouraged from using elevators, members of the U.S. House of Representatives convened on Friday to quickly pass a sweeping $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, though it was unclear whether they would be forced to delay.

Leadership of the Democratic-controlled chamber and top Republicans aimed to pass the largest relief measure that Congress has ever taken up in a voice vote, one of the fastest methods available, and pass it on to Republican President Donald Trump for his signature.

“Today’s vote is about saving lives and livelihoods,” said Republican Representative Kevin Brady. “Congress must act together and act aggressively now to stem this crisis.”

As debate commenced, lawmakers sat several seats apart from each other, maintaining distance as they waited for a chance to speak. The House scheduled three hours of debate, headed toward a possible vote around noon EDT (1600 GMT).

There could be opposition. Republican Representative Thomas Massie said he was uncomfortable with the idea of allowing the massive package to pass by voice vote and indicated he may force the chamber to hold a formal, recorded vote. That could delay action until Saturday.

As the House debated, Trump lashed out at Massie on Twitter, calling him a “third rate Grandstander.”

“He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay,” the president wrote in a series of tweets. “…. throw Massie out of Republican Party!”

To minimize the threat of infection due to the coronavirus, the Capitol has laid out special procedures. Members are barred from sitting next to one another and would be called from their offices alphabetically for the vote. They will be required to use hand sanitizer before entering the chamber and encouraged to take the stairs, rather than use elevators, to better maintain social distancing.

Most of the House’s 430 current members are in their home districts because of the coronavirus outbreak and would need to go to Washington if Massie forces a recorded vote – which could put them at further risk of contagion.

Older people have proven especially vulnerable to the disease, and the average age of House members was 58 years old at the beginning of 2019, well above the average age of 38 for the U.S. population as whole.

The rescue package – which would be the largest fiscal relief measure ever passed by Congress – will rush direct payments to Americans within three weeks if the House backs it and Trump signs it into law. It passed the Republican-led Senate unanimously on Wednesday night.

The $2.2 trillion measure includes $5 00 billion to help hard-hit industries and $290 billion for payments of up to $3,000 to millions of families.

The legislation will also provide $350 billion for small-business loans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid and at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems.


The rare but deep, bipartisan support in Congress underscored how seriously lawmakers are taking the global pandemic as Americans suffer and the medical system threatens to buckle.

Pelosi said House leaders were planning to fast-track the rescue plan by passing it via a voice vote on Friday. She had said that if there were calls for a roll-call vote, lawmakers might be able to vote remotely as not all would be able to be in Washington.

It was unclear whether Massie would block the measure.

“I’m having a real hard time with this,” Massie, an outspoken fiscal conservative, said on 55KRC talk radio in Cincinnati.

Democratic Representative Dean Phillips asked Massie on Twitter to let his colleagues know if he intended to delay the bill’s passage “RIGHT NOW so we can book flights and expend about $200,000 in taxpayer money to counter your principled but terribly misguided stunt.”

The United States surpassed China and Italy on Thursday as the country with the most coronavirus cases. The number of U.S. cases passed 82,000, and the death toll reached almost 1,200.

The Labor Department reported the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to 3.28 million, the highest level ever.

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Commercial properties such as hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions need not pay property taxes for 2020 as part of Covid-19 aid

SINGAPORE – Owners of commercial properties that have been badly affected by the coronavirus outbreak will not need to pay property taxes for 2020.

Such properties include hotels, serviced apartments, tourist attractions, shops and restaurants, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on Thursday (March 26) as he announced a Supplementary Budget to combat the worsening Covid-19 outbreak.

The move, which is a big step up from the 15 per cent to 30 per cent property tax rebates announced in last month’s Budget, is meant to help landlords with business costs during the economic downturn.

“Where the cost is within the Government’s control, we will do our best to help,” said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

A property tax rebate of 30 per cent for 2020 will also be granted for all other non-residential properties, such as offices and industrial properties.

In announcing the $48 billion Supplementary Budget on Thursday, Mr Heng urged landlords to fully pass on the rebate to tenants, such as by reducing rentals to ease tenants’ cash flow and cost pressures.

“Many businesses have pointed out that it will be a lose-lose situation if landlords do not support their tenants. After all, if tenants fail, the properties will be empty.

“So my message to landlords is: Do your part, chip in, and give additional help to tenants who are more badly hit,” he said.

This comes after some tenants and associations pointed out that the earlier round of rebates were not passed on by their landlords.

The Restaurant Association of Singapore, for instance, said that not all food and beverage operators have seen the rental rebates promised by landlords.

Retail and food and beverage spaces were granted a 15 per cent rebate at the Budget statement last month. Properties such as hotels, serviced apartments and convention venues were given a rebate of 30 per cent.

In response, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament earlier this month that while some landlords “have proactively gone out of their way to share the rebates”, others “are still taking a bit of time to roll out their packages”.

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PM and ministers to take three-month pay cut in solidarity with Singaporeans coping with coronavirus

SINGAPORE – The Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers and other political office-holders – as well as the President – will take a three-month pay cut to stand in solidarity with Singaporeans in this difficult time, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Thursday (March 26).

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said that political office-holders will take an additional two-month pay cut on top of the one-month pay cut announced last month, in light of the deteriorating situation caused by the coronavirus.

“The President, Speaker and both Deputy Speakers have informed me that they will join in and take a similar three-month pay cut in total,” said Mr Heng, as he delivered the Supplementary Budget.

“It is in times of crisis that the true character of a nation can be seen,” he added. “We are all in this together, and we must all look after one another in these trying times.”

Calling the Covid-19 situation an “unprecedented crisis” that has escalated very quickly, Mr Heng said it has prompted the Government to take extraordinary measures and put together a landmark supplementary budget.

Delivering a ministerial statement that outlined the Government’s thinking behind what he has called the Resilience Budget, Mr Heng said the coronavirus is a defining challenge for Singapore.

“It is a public health crisis, an economic shock, and a social test,” he said. “It will challenge our resilience as individuals and as a society.”

Mr Heng noted that just five weeks after he delivered his Budget speech on Feb 18, the world is now facing a pandemic, with an estimated 410,000 people infected across 190 countries.

While Singapore acted early and decisively and managed to keep the number of cases to a manageable level during the first wave of infections, the world is now seeing successive waves and imported infections, prompting countries to take public health measures, said Mr Heng.

But measures on the medical front to contain the pandemic have made the economic battle more difficult, he added.

“As more countries implement their measures, the economic disruptions will be wider, deeper, and more prolonged,” said Mr Heng. “The global economy is now facing both a supply and demand shock.”

He noted how lockdowns have had knock-on effects, given today’s highly-integrated global supply chains, while people staying home mean that spending has fallen, while business confidence is plunging in the face of growing uncertainties.

Global financial and stock markets are also in turmoil, while credit has tightened around the world, he added.

As an open economy that is highly integrated with the global economy, Singapore will be deeply impacted by these global shocks, said Mr Heng.

He noted that advance GDP estimates released on Thursday (March 26) showed that the economy contracted by 10.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry has downgraded the Republic’s GDP growth forecast for the year to between minus 4.0 per cent and minus 1.0 per cent.

“In economic terms alone, this will likely be the worst economic contraction since independence,” said Mr Heng.

The Resilience Budget, which will introduce over $48 billion in new and enhanced measures, is therefore focused on three areas: protecting jobs, helping enterprises with immediate challenges, and strengthening economic and social resilience so that Singapore can emerge intact and stronger.

“We cannot prevent an economic recession as the external health and economic situation will evolve beyond our control,” he said. “But it will help us to mitigate the extent of the downturn, and more importantly, help save jobs and protect livelihoods.”

The Resilience Budget is also a reminder that the battle against Covid-19 is waged not just on the medical and economic fronts, but that the virus is also a test of Singapore’s social cohesion and psychological resilience, said Mr Heng.

“This reflects our determination that Singapore and Singaporeans remain resilient in the face of these challenges,” he said. “Come what may, no matter how daunting the challenge at hand, we will bounce back, stronger and more united than ever, as we weather this storm together.”

Concluding, Mr Heng pledged that the Government will lead the way in the fight against Covid-19 by doing its best to anticipate and respond to developments, make decisions based on facts and evidence, and exercise judgment when there are trade-offs.

“The Government and the political leadership are in this with Singaporeans,” he said. “We share the worries and anxieties of Singaporeans, and we will do our best for them.

“We will walk with every Singaporean, through every up and down.”

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To see Singapore through Covid-19, essential to have strongest team and mandate with longest runway: PM Lee

SINGAPORE – Singapore is facing a very big storm that will require the strongest leadership team with the strongest mandate to see it through the crisis, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (March 27).

This team will also need “the longest runway so that Singapore can have the best leadership” to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Lee told reporters at the Istana.

“That’s a very desirable – in fact, essential – requirement for us to see through this together,” he said.

Asked about how he will decide on when to call a general election, Mr Lee said the ideal situation is that things will settle within the next six months, and then an election can be held.

“But nobody can say – it may well get worse, and I expect it can easily get worse before it gets better,” said Mr Lee.

“You have to make a judgment in this situation with an outbreak going on, with all sorts of exceptional measures implemented in Singapore, is it possible for us to conduct an election and to get this done so that we clear the decks and we can go through and deal with whatever lies ahead?”

Mr Lee noted that in a state of general shutdown, such as in the United Kingdom, an election would be difficult, as the logistics of getting ballot boxes in place and voting would be difficult.

“But short of that situation, even when you have restrictions and some safe distancing measures, life still goes on: People are working, people can travel, people can conduct the poll,” he said

He noted that countries like Israel have carried out elections recently, as has the United States, where most states carried on with primary elections.

Social media and the Internet mean that while the situation might not be ideal, an election can carry on with appropriate measures in place.

“These are, to a large extent, solvable problems,” he said. “You have to think of solutions for them, but it can be done, and I think that we have to weigh conducting an election under abnormal circumstances, against going into a storm with a (government) mandate which is reaching the end of its term.”

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U.S. airlines to dash for cash grants, not loans, even with potential government stake

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. airlines are preparing to tap the government for up to $25 billion in grants to cover payroll in a sharp travel downturn triggered by the coronavirus, even after the government warned it may take stakes in exchange for bailout funds, people familiar with the matter said.

After the U.S. House of Representatives approves the airline bailout and President Donald Trump signs it as early as Friday, airlines are to receive initial payments within 10 days.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin can demand equity, warrants or other financial instruments in order to “provide appropriate compensation to the federal government.” A Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment on a report that Mnuchin would demand equity.

Airlines can ask for the equivalent of their payroll between April 1 and Sept 30 of last year, according to the terms of the bill, meaning some large airlines could get $4 billion or more in total.

Delta Air Lines, for example, paid roughly $5.6 billion in salaries and related costs over six months of 2019 to around 91,000 full-time employees, according to regulatory filings.

Despite the prospects of payroll grants, airlines including Delta have already moved to reduce employee costs through temporary voluntary unpaid leaves and early retirements.

More than 17,000 Delta workers such as flight attendants have already volunteered for unpaid leaves for 30, 60 or 90 days, and Chief Executive Ed Bastian has asked employees to only work for three or four days a week between April and June to save around 25% in payroll costs, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

With operations sharply cut back, airlines’ biggest expense right now is employee wages and the government grants give them around six months to reassess whether air travel demand is really returning.

Industry trade group Airlines for America on Thursday said it hoped “the federal government will expeditiously release these funds with as few restrictions as possible.”

Aside from the grants, airlines without other available financing options can also apply for $25 billion in loans under the rescue package.

Some major airlines, which continued to tap debt markets this week while lobbying Washington for aid, have told U.S. officials they may skip the government loans entirely, people said.

The 5-year loans carry more onerous terms than the grants, and private financing, and could burden balance sheets just as companies are trying to recover from the crisis.

Also, companies would have to restrict executive compensation and suspend dividend payments until 12 months after loan re-payment.

With the grants, limits on executive compensation would expire on March 24, 2022 and dividends and share buybacks can resume on Sept. 30, 2021.

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Parliament: Law changed to allow use of a fund for new Assurance Package to delay impact of GST hike

SINGAPORE -The Goods and Services Tax Voucher Fund can be used to fund a new package to cushion the impact of the impending GST hike for all Singaporeans, following changes to a law that Parliament passed on Thursday (March 26).

The changes to the GST Voucher Fund Act will put in place measures announced in Budget 2020 in February.

The $6 billion Assurance Package, with money from the GST Voucher Fund, will help to delay the impact of the GST increase for most Singaporean households, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had said then

It will give all adult Singaporeans cash payouts of between $700 and $1,600 over five years.

The GST is slated to rise from 7 per cent to 9 per cent between 2022 and 2025.

The amendments expand the purpose of the GST Voucher Fund such that the beneficiaries are no longer confined to those who are less well-off, Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Thursday (March 26).

“The GST Voucher Fund can then be used to fund the Assurance Package for GST, which will benefit all Singaporeans during the transition period,” he said, with lower-income Singaporeans getting greater support.

“Having said that, the weight of our assistance in the GST Voucher Fund will still go towards lower-income Singaporeans, who will continue to receive more support.”

Since 2012, the existing GST Voucher scheme has been funded by the GST Voucher Fund. Under this scheme, lower- and middle-income households receive annual cash payouts, MediSave top-ups and utilities rebates.

The changes will also allow aid to be given as grants-in-aid to defray expenses incurred by parents or guardians for infants and children under their care and charge.

A new section to the law has been added to safeguard against legal action being inappropriately taken against the GST Voucher Fund, which is for general welfare, Mr Wong added.

Nominated MP Walter Theseira asked if the changes implied a shift away from the original intent of the GST Voucher Fund, which was to directly finance relief from the GST for low-income Singaporeans.

Mr Wong assured Associate Professor Theseira that this was not the case.

The Government has a longstanding commitment to lower-income Singaporeans, and will continue to provide more support to them through the existing permanent GST Voucher scheme, which will be enhanced when the GST rate goes up, he said.

Nominated MP Anthea Ong asked for the GST relief to be extended to migrant workers, while Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) asked for essential items that are used by the elderly , such as wheelchairs and hearing aids, to be exempted from GST.

Mr Wong said that while the Government appreciates the contributions of migrant workers, it has to put Singaporeans first as fiscal resources are limited.

“This reflects the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship,” he said. Still, the Government will continue to look at how it can more directly address the concerns and needs of migrant workers by working with organisations that look after their welfare.

He explained to Ms Pereira that Singapore has chosen to adopt a broad-based GST system with minimal exemptions to help keep the GST rate relatively low while providing targeted support to the lower-income and elderly.

Seniors also receive more benefits under the GST Voucher scheme through Medisave top-ups, and can tap on the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund for assertive devices and home care products, the minister added.

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After Senate vote, massive U.S. coronavirus bill moves to the House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate’s unanimous passage of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill sent the unprecedented economic legislation to the House of Representatives, whose Democratic leaders hope to pass it on Friday.

The Republican-led Senate approved the massive bill – which would be the largest fiscal stimulus measure ever passed by Congress – by 96 votes to none late on Wednesday, overcoming bitter partisan negotiations and boosting its chances of passing the Democratic-majority House.

The unanimous vote, a rare departure from bitter partisanship in Washington, underscored how seriously members of Congress are taking the global pandemic as Americans suffer and the medical system reels.

“When there’s a crisis of this magnitude, the private sector cannot solve it,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Individuals even with bravery and valor are not powerful enough to beat it back. Government is the only force large enough to staunch the bleeding and begin the healing.”

The package is intended to flood the country with cash in a bid to stem the crushing impact on the economy of an intensifying epidemic that has killed more than 900 people in the United States and infected at least 60,000.

It follows two others that became law this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the total $4.7 trillion the U.S. government spends annually.

Republican President Donald Trump, who has promised to sign the bill as soon as it passes the House, expressed his delight on Twitter. “96-0 in the United States Senate. Congratulations AMERICA!” he wrote.

Only two other nations, China and Italy, have more coronavirus cases than the United States. The World Health Organization has warned the United States looks set to become the epicenter of the pandemic.

The House’s Democratic leaders announced that they would have a voice vote on Friday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she backed the bill, and was open to passing more legislation if needed to address the crisis in future.

The House Republican leadership is recommending a “yes” vote.

The massive bill, worth more than $2 trillion, includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of families.

The legislation will also provide $350 billion for small-business loans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid and at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems.

There had been some debate about whether all 430 House members, most of whom have been out of Washington since March 14, would have to return to consider the bill. That would have been difficult, given that at least two have tested positive for coronavirus, a handful of others are in self-quarantine and several states have issued stay-at-home orders.

There are five vacant House seats.

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Coronavirus POLL: Should Labour be allowed into No10 as part of an emergency coalition?

Boris Johnson could be asked to lead a national unity Government, as Winston Churchill did during the Second World War, in order to ensure cross-party consensus is achieved during the coronavirus pandemic. Several senior Tory MPs are believed to be in favour of such a move, so the public does not associate the crisis solely with the Tories if the situation worsens. The three remaining Labour leadership candidates have given a mixed response on whether they would be in favour of joining an emergency coalition.

George Freeman, a Tory MP who worked as Minister for Transport until Mr Johnson’s recent cabinet reshuffle, has suggested a “Covid coalition” Government may be unavoidable.

He told the Guardian: “The scale of this national emergency – the suspension of usual freedoms and democracy, the economic consequences and the likely loss of tens of thousands of lives – demands a suspension of politics as usual.

“When Labour have a sensible new leader, Keir Starmer [if elected] should be invited to Covid cabinet, Cobra and joint No 10 briefings.”

Another Tory MP said they thought No10 would consider a cross-party council if emergency measures have to go on for some time, especially if Parliament is unable to sit.

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Other Tories suggested a cross-party coalition was needed to help share responsibility with Labour and other opposition parties so that Mr Johnson wasn’t left entirely to blame if the situation worsens.

One Tory MP told the newspaper there was a political argument to “drag Labour in”, so the public do not entirely blame the Conservative Party for any failings.

But currently, the Prime Minister’s measures have been backed by the vast majority of Britons.

A YouGov poll, carried out from March 23-24, found 93 percent of respondents backed the stricter lockdown measures introduced by Mr Johnson on Monday.

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2,788 adults responded to the survey, which asked if people supported or opposed the new measures.

76 percent said they strongly supported the move and a further 17 percent said they somewhat supported it.

Just 4 percent said they either somewhat or strongly opposed the new measures, which prevent Britons from leaving their homes unless shopping for essentials, carrying out one form of daily exercise, medical need and helping a vulnerable person or to travel to work.

But the national mood could shift as the number of cases of coronavirus continue to rise.

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The Labour leadership candidates gave a mixed reaction to the idea of a national unity government.

Sir Keir Starmer, who is the current frontrunner, said he is focusing on ensuring the Government introduces sufficient measures to ensure social distancing is adhered to.

Lisa Nandy also appeared to oppose an official unity Government, and instead suggested a “national COBRA” unit comprised of opposition figures, unions, business groups and others would be better placed to deal with the outbreak.

But Rebecca Long-Bailey, who has been backed by Jeremy Corbyn, is understood to not have ruled out a cross-party coalition.

Mr Johnson has already begun involving opposition leaders in emergency meetings.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Labour Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and the DUP’s First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster have been included in COBRA meetings.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is a member of the Labour Party, has also been involved in decision making in recent weeks.

How are you coping with the coronavirus lockdown? What are you doing to keep yourself entertained in these difficult times? How are you helping your local community, or has someone in the local community been helping you? Send your stories, pictures and videos to [email protected]

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Coronavirus POLL: Has Boris Johnson been given too much power with emergency bill? VOTE

The bill, which gives ministers increased powers, is being rushed through its parliamentary stages as the country struggles to get a grip of the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple sections of the bill are aimed at reducing pressure on different sectors during the epidemic. The bill wold give courts the ability to increase use of audio and video links.

And rules around detention under mental health laws would be relaxed.

The Government would also be given powers to restrict public events and shut down pubs.

As Mr Johnson rolled out sweeping measures to curb social contact, he relied on the goodwill of landlords to close pubs, restaurants and cafes.

The new bill will hand him stronger powers to force owners to shutter their premises.

If the UK Government and devolved ministers agree that a gathering or venue is likely to pose a risk to public health, action can be taken.

The owners may be ordered to close and failure to do so could result in a fine.

The measures contained in the 329-page bill were initially meant to last two years.

But Conservative and Labour MPs spoke up to challenge No10 on the lengthy timeframe, with some arguing the bill should be reviewed as often as each month.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “We have heard the concerns about the need for periodic review of the powers in the bill.

“We have, therefore, this morning, tabled a government amendment to the bill to require the House of Commons to renew the legislation every 6 months.

“Should the Commons decline to renew the temporary provisions, the government will be required to bring forward regulations to ensure they expire.”

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Welsh Labour MP Chris Bryant was among the outspoken critics of the two-year timeframe.

Writing in PoliticsHome, Mr Bryant warned: “It’s a rule throughout history that governments – even good governments – are quick to take extra powers to themselves and slow to return them.”

He said he was “amazed” the Government had favoured such a long period for the powers to remain in place.

He said Downing Street’s “concession” that would see ministers update the House every two months “goes nowhere near far enough”.

He added: “The powers in this bill that confer an additional benefit to people could stand for two years without explicit renewal, but any measure that restricts liberty should be subject to a renewal clause so that at the very least Parliament has a moment to consider whether they are still needed.

“I would prefer that to be every thirty days, but I accept there may be an argument for an initial period of ninety days followed by regular renewals every thirty days.”

The Government has passed all stages of its emergency legislation through the House of Commons.

The bill is now being considered by the House of Lords.

It is expected to become law by Thursday at the latest.

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Brexit benefits MUST be ‘grasped’ to heal UK after disaster of coronavirus says Labour MP

The MP for Blackley and Broughton is calling for an end to the anti-Brexit rhetoric to aid the country’s recovery from the coronavirus that looks set to plunge the country into a social, economic and cultural black hole. The spread of COVID-19 is increasing at a rapid rate with more than 8,000 in the UK diagnosed with the virus and 422 people dead. The UK economy has suffered a hammer blow after bars, restaurants, businesses and other social spaces were closed and workers lost their jobs in a bid to stop the virus in its tracks.

Writing on the grassroots website Labour List, Mr Stringer today called for the Government to adopt policies that will boost post-Brexit national prosperity.

Noting the immediate impact the virus is having on individuals and families, he wrote: “The Covid-19 crisis in the UK is causing much distress to people right across the country.

“It is inevitable that when life does return to some form of normality, as a nation we will be faced with serious economic challenges.”

Mr Stringer, who has served as a politician since 1997, urged the UK to grab control over its policies to ensure the nations’ well-being in the years ahead, adding “the UK is leaving the EU and therefore it is absolutely essential that policies adopted by the government in post-Brexit Britain boost national prosperity and well-being in years to come, as well as ensure that the UK ‘takes back control’ now that it has left the EU.”

Mr Stringer has joined the Centre for Brexit Policy, which is launching this week.

The think-tank is forming to provide critical policy changes to Brexit and to campaign for an “evidence-based case for a real-Brexit and its benefits”. It aims to play a similar role to the Centre for Policy Studies which aided reforms to the British economy during Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s.

The group has previously said the coronavirus will transform Brexit negotiations and accelerate the Eurozone financial risks, warning negotiators to get a firm grip of the possible repercussions. But it’s not all doom and gloom, with the group saying it could be mitigated by collaborating with global financial centres.

“The danger is that the resulting slump will blow the lid off deep-seated flaws inside the Eurozone set up 20 years ago. Once the UK leaves the EU’s framework at the end of 2020, this financial risk should be lower for the UK itself and the global financial market and it is more likely that the threat can be mitigated by collaborating with other global financial centres,” it wrote.

The think-tank’s first paper it concluded the economic slump caused by the coronavirus will unveil the flaws in the eurozone set up 20 years ago.

It identified the foundation of the eurozone financial regulatory system is based on toxic country debt that is wrongly treated by the eurozone as riskless liquid sovereign debt.

The impact of the virus on countries like Italy and Spain could be a “financial Chernobyl” with COVID-19 exposing the problems of countries that lack monetary powers to cope with a huge drop in output.

However, for Britain, the think tanks argued fallout from the crisis could be reduced in comparison because it kept the pound and City regulators have protected the global financial centres based in London.

The think-tank is being directed by former Brexit Party MEP and former chief executive of the Mayor’s Fund for London serving under now prime minister Boris Johnson.

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