Boris Johnson should lift the lockdown to protect jobs, and save the economy, a leading Tory donor says today as he argues that an easing of restrictions would help newly won Tory seats in the north.
Writing in The Telegraph, Alexander Temerko who owns some of the biggest manufacturing businesses in the north of England says the Prime Minister owes it to the voters in the so-called Blue Wall of northern seats to lift the lockdown urgently.
The Ukrainian-born businessman who has donated heavily to the Conservatives and knows Mr Johnson says: “These are not initiatives to be placed on the backburner – rather, they are of the utmost importance to press forward with now, for delaying will be ruinous.
“The Government owes it to British workers – and to workers in the Blue Wall that gave Boris their trust in the last election, in particular.”
Mr Temerko continues: “Our economy has taken a dire hit, unemployment is skyrocketing, and Brexit is looming. And in the year run-up to Brexit, when British industries needed to be at their best, preparing and expanding, they have instead been hobbled and hamstrung by the pandemic.
“This is not a retrospective criticism – it is a call for the Government and British society to look now to the future.
“The Government and our NHS have done so much to save lives – now they must work equally hard to save our economy, or else face a trial even greater than coronavirus for our nation.
“If the lockdown continues, we will see more businesses and economies fail, and dreadful looting of Government coffers. We will see unemployment continue to spiral, and the resultant drain on the state’s resources.
“We will see investment flee, and we will see a prolonged, ruinous recession that will push the UK away from the negotiating tables with the EU, US and other powers as we seek to sign trade deals and negotiate our international future.”
Mr Temerko runs and owns Aquind, an electricity interconnector being constructed between Britain and France worth over £1billion, and he is the co-director of Hadrian Yard, formerly OGN Group, the North East’s largest manufacturing yard, producing offshore oil, gas and renewable energy equipment.
He adds: “There is a way out of this scenario: An economic revival. A booming economy would accomplish the exact opposite of the dire scenario – it would give us a strong hand to negotiate Brexit, it would safeguard our financial wellbeing, and indeed, it would save lives, by keeping our society fit and healthy mentally and physically, and funding our NHS.”
Mr Temerko is urging Mr Johnson to set up a Business Council to support entrepreneurs, particularly in the north of England.
He says: “All crises beget both hardship and opportunity. We have an opportunity now: A revolutionary shift to a true pro-business administration; an innovative and bold cast of leaders to push change where necessary.”
He adds: “We have an unprecedented opportunity. We have saved the lives of so many citizens through quick action and the tireless work of our NHS – we must not waste it by remaining paralysed in fear. We must instead agree to a new slogan: Lift the lockdown, protect jobs, save the economy.”
Mr Temerko has donated about £1.4million to the Conservative Party since 2011, and currently gives £50,000 annually.
He added: “The fact that 99 per cent of people, ready, willing and able to work, are staying home to protect 1 per cent of the population is an unsustainable situation.
“Protecting people is very important, and we must, but we can’t do so by keeping the entire nation locked away.
“Many more people will be in grave danger if there is economic collapse, and conversely, the economic output of the 99% that are able to work will protect the vulnerable by guaranteeing funding and focus on the NHS.”