Rishi Sunak to speak of ‘difficult trade-offs’ due to Covid crisis

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will acknowledge that ministers have been forced to make “difficult trade-offs and decisions” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a speech to the virtual Conservative Party conference, Mr Sunak will say the economy is undergoing significant change as a result of the crisis.

He will again stress that he cannot protect every job, admitting “the pain of knowing it only grows with each passing day”.

Mr Sunak will commit himself to “a single priority” as Chancellor to “create, support and extend opportunity to as many people as I can”.

“We will not let talent wither, or waste, we will help all who want it find new opportunity and develop new skills,” he is expected to say.

Mr Sunak, who is being touted as a potential successor to Boris Johnson, will pay what was being described as a “heartfelt tribute” to the Prime Minister, acknowledging the “difficult trade-offs and decisions” forced upon the Government.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor has defended his Eat Out to Help Out scheme which sought to encourage diners to return to restaurants and pubs with a state-backed discount.

At the weekend, Mr Johnson suggested the incentive “may have helped to spread the virus” and that its impact needed to be counteracted, with the country facing a second surge in positive Covid-19 cases.

But Mr Sunak, in an interview with The Sun ahead of his speech, said the scheme had helped prop-up two million jobs and that he had no regrets about paying for it.

Asked if he had any regrets, he replied: “No, definitely not. We had an industry that I care deeply about because of employment. It’s over two million people.”