Gordon Brown: 'More needs to be done to protect people's jobs - within days'

The former PM said action was needed within days.

Labour former Prime Minister and Chancellor Gordon Brown has urged Rishi Sunak to do "considerably more" to protect people's jobs by the weekend amid the coronavirus crisis.

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"I think he will have to do considerably more to deal with the issues of employment protection," Mr Brown told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Picture: Duncan McGlynn/Getty Images
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"He says he'll do more but the package should be out now to avoid redundancies being forced upon companies over the next day or two.

"I think a lot of company directors will be looking at the moment to how many staff they are going to shed in the next few days, next few weeks.

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"And I think we need to step in now with building the confidence that we can keep people in work or keep people on short term in work and have an arrangement with people where they take some holidays but at the same time they are going to have income protection.

"If families don't have income protection there's lot of other consequences: people try to work if they are sick, people put themselves at risk.

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"Their health becomes an issue of public health and I think we really have to step in to deal with this particular blockage at the moment and I hope the Chancellor will act before the end of tomorrow."

Mr Brown, who was Prime Minister during the 2008 financial crash, said the scale of the crisis now facing the country is "unprecedented".

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"It's a global medical emergency - after all nearly 10,000 people have died, 300,000 people infected.

"It's also a global economic emergency - people think maybe 25 million jobs are going to be lost around the world.

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"And it means that people are doubly afraid: they're afraid of catching the virus, or their family members catching the virus, and they're afraid of their livelihoods and their family incomes being lost.

"And we've got to act on both fronts and we've got to act domestically and we've got to act internationally."

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Former PM Mr Brown also said: "This is a global problem - it's not just a national problem - it needs global action and not simply national action.

"We've had too much of America first, India first, China first, we have had too much of this populist nationalism.

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"We're finding that we're connected whether we like it or not, we're finding that we depend on each other whether we like it or not, and I think people have got to put aside the differences they have and international co-operation is absolutely vital to this."