BBC Question Time row erupts as Fiona Bruce exposes Labour’s eye-watering coronavirus plan

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Labour MP Louise Haigh hit out at Chancellor Rishi Sunak for not extending the furlough scheme after 750,000 Britons have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. She noted that Labour would “spend more” to protect workers. But BBC presenter Fiona Bruce reminded the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary it would be costly.

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Ms Haigh said: “We have to be honest and recognise there is a jobs crisis here and now. 750,000 have lost their jobs already this year.

“That’s 750,000 personal tragedies and I didn’t hear anything from the Chancellor about retraining or about creating new jobs.

“With the measures as they are not being anywhere near significant enough in order to protect against a second wave of job losses then I would say increasing unemployment is inevitable.”

Ms Bruce interjected: “So Labour would do more, spend more?”

Ms Haigh continued: “We would, yes. We need to see targeted and specific support for those sectors because quite frankly there’s a cost of not doing this.”

Ms Bruce added: “There’s a cost at the end of it as well.”

The Labour MP said: “Of course, that’s why we’ve already borrowed a specific amount.

“We have to match the scale of action with the scale of the challenge.”

It comes as Mr Sunak said the virus’s resurgence poses a threat to the UK’s “fragile” economic recovery.

The rise in cases is a “clear” signal, Public Health England’s Professor Yvonne Doyle said, as she insisted people must follow the stricter measures announced this week in order to help control the virus.

The number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the four nations rose to 6,634 as of 9am on Thursday, taking the overall number of cases confirmed to 416,363.

Testing capacity has expanded significantly since the outbreak began meaning more cases will be detected, but Prof Doyle said the latest figure was “a stark warning for us all”.

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She added: “The signals are clear. Positivity rates are rising across all age groups and we’re continuing to see spikes in rates of admission to hospital and critical care.

“We must all follow the new measures that have been brought in to help control the virus and download the new NHS COVID-19 App which is the fastest way of knowing when you’re at risk.”

The app, which launched in England and Wales on Thursday, had been downloaded more than one million times by Android users by that evening according to the Google Play Store – a figure likely to be higher when iPhone downloads are included.

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said the rise in cases will lead to greater pressure on hospitals, more serious illness and a rise in deaths, and stressed that the public must do its bit to help lessen the effect.

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