Six multi-millionaires who bankrolled the Conservative party’s election victory last December have called for Boris Johnson to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The group of donors are seeking to put pressure on the Prime Minister as he returns to work on Monday, citing fears over the potential for further damage to the UK economy.
Financier Michael Spencer, who has donated over £5m to the Tories in the last few years, told The Sunday Times: “We should start loosening up the lockdown as soon as we reasonably can and allow the economy to start moving forward.
“We should really begin to offer a narrative of how and when it’s going to stop.”
While Steve Morgan, the former boss of the housebuilder Redrow, who gave £1m to the Conservatives’ general election campaign, said: “We’re actually in danger that the medicine, if you want to call the lockdown that, is more harmful than the cure.”
Billionaire Peter Hargreaves, Phones4u founder John Caudwell, banker Sir Henry Angest and restaurateur Richard Caring - who donated over £2m to the election campaign between them - also called for an easing of the lockdown measures.
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Despite originally setting a review date of April 13, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on April 16 that the shutdown would be extended for at least three more weeks.
The situation will be reviewed again on May 7.
At the Downing Street briefing on Saturday, Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to comment on what the Government's exit strategy was, saying it would be "irresponsible" to get people's hopes up.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also stepped up pressure on the Government to set out an "exit strategy" for lifting the lockdown.
In a letter to Mr Johnson he said the UK was again in danger of falling behind other countries, which were already engaged in "adult" conversations with their citizens as to how the restrictions could be eased.
"The British public have made great sacrifices to make the lockdown work. They deserve to be part of an adult conversation about what comes next. If we want to take people with us and secure their consent, this is necessary now,” the letter reads.
The Government insists that the lockdown must continue, but some Britons have been tempted back outside to green spaces by days of constant sunshine.
Before he was taken to hospital, Mr Johnson was trying to ram home the "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives" message, but discipline has been slipping.
Many police forces across the UK have complained of having to deal with flagrant breaches of the shutdown rules, while traffic data revealed car journeys had crept up by three percentage points this week.
And mobility data released by Apple revealed that in recent days searches for maps for walking or driving had increased by eight percentage points.
It comes as the UK death toll in hospitals rose past 20,000 on Saturday, a bleak milestone as health officials had previously hoped that in the best case scenario they could limit this figure to 20,000 or below.