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COVID-19: No chance of earlier lockdown release, chancellor tells Sky News

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has ruled out any chance of a speedier end to lockdown, telling Sky News the last thing the business needed was a “stop, start” return to normal life.

Mr Sunak told Sophy Ridge on Sunday that the road map the prime minister has set out was the right “cautious but irreversible approach”.

But he added there was a “sense of confidence and optimism about the future”.

Asked whether, if the data was better than expected, the PM’s road map could happen quicker, he said: “What we want is a cautious but irreversible approach.

“Those will be the earliest dates that we think we can do the various things we’ve laid out.

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The four stages of England’s lockdown lifting

“But we’re doing everything we can to make sure that it is hopefully irreversible – that’s what we want to see.”

He added: “What businesses don’t want is a stop-start approach to this, we want to know that it’s a one-way road and that’s why it’s cautious.

“We’ve given the earliest of dates to give a sense of timing and a sense of direction and then obviously we might have to adjust those if things are not going exactly as we would like, but look the early signs are promising.”

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His comments came after he also gave a reassurance he would do “whatever it took” to support businesses and families in the climb out of lockdown.

And ahead of his Budget on Wednesday, the chancellor was upbeat.

He went on: “We’re seeing great news with the rollout of the vaccine, not just the take-up of it but also the efficacy of the vaccine.

“The data that we’re getting is showing us it is working, so I think that should give us all a sense of confidence and optimism about the future – that we can make progress on the road map and hopefully slowly get our lives back to normal.”

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