Ex-UK PMs join global call for $2.5tn pandemic relief package

John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are among those calling for an urgent G20 summit. (Getty Images)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Ex-UK PMs join global call for $2.5tn pandemic relief package

  • Former presidents, prime ministers and leaders of international institutions have come together to call for an emergency G20 Summit
  • The former leaders also highlighted the danger that a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks in the developing world could re-infect richer nations

LONDON: Three former British prime ministers have signed a joint plea from 225 world leaders for a $2.5 trillion package of support for developing countries threatened with disaster due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former presidents, prime ministers and leaders of international institutions have come together to call for an emergency G20 Summit to agree a global health and economic recovery plan that would “send out a message of hope for the future.”

The letter — whose signatories include former UK prime ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Major, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Hungarian philanthropist George Soros — warns that the world faces a deep recession that threatens hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people with unemployment, destitution and starvation.

“Without action from the G20, the recession caused by the pandemic will only deepen, hurting all economies and the world’s most marginalised and poorest peoples and nations the most,” the former leaders said.

“Representing, as it does, 85 percent of the world’s nominal GDP (gross domestic product), the G20 has the capacity to lead the mobilisation of resources on the scale required. We urge leaders to do so immediately.”

The former leaders also highlighted the danger that a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks in the developing world could re-infect richer nations that may have already controlled their own outbreaks.

The G20, made up of the world’s largest economies and currently chaired by Saudi Arabia, is seen as the most promising avenue through which to coordinate a global response.

“The world is at a critical moment,” Brown said. “Without a G20 leaders’ meeting online soon and certainly long before the end of November, a vacuum in global leadership will open up just at the time when we need global action most — to avoid a second wave of Covid coming out of the poorest countries and to move the world economy from rescue operations to planning a global recovery.”

The pandemic has already had a devastating effect on living standards and the global economy.

The UN has warned of a worldwide recession that could plunge over 420 million more people into extreme poverty.

The World Food Programme announced that 265 million people are likely to suffer from crisis levels of hunger — an increase of 130 million over pre-pandemic levels.


UK’s Raab says unacceptable for Russian intelligence services to target COVID-19 work

Updated 7 min 56 sec ago

UK’s Raab says unacceptable for Russian intelligence services to target COVID-19 work

  • Raab’s comments come after Britain also accused Russia on Thursday of trying to interfere in its 2019 general election

LONDON: British foreign minister Dominic Raab on Thursday said it was completely unacceptable for Russian intelligence services to target research on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” Raab said, following a joint statement by British Canadian and US cybersecurity services.

“While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health.

“The UK will continue to counter those conducting such cyberattacks, and work with our allies to hold perpetrators to account.”

Raab’s comments come after Britain also accused Russia on Thursday of trying to interfere in its 2019 general election by illicitly acquiring sensitive documents relating to a planned free trade agreement with Washington and leaking them online.

In response, a senior Russian lawmaker said the allegations were “anti-Russian nonsense” and undermined UK-Russia relations.