Coronavirus UK: James Dyson says Britain’s workers must get back to the office


Billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson today said British workers should get back to their offices as he predicted ‘entrepreneurship and wealth creation’ are central to the UK’s post-coronavirus economic recovery. 

The 73-year-old businessman took a swipe at the Government’s threats to impose another national coronavirus lockdown as he urged caution against moves to wreck the economy a second time.

Sir James, best known as the inventor of the Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner, suggested talking ‘less about pubs’ and ‘more about how we get people back to work’. He conceded it would be ‘hard work’ but insisted ‘that’s what we’ve got to do’.

Britain’s richest man, who is worth an estimated £16.2billion according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2020, announced 900 job cuts worldwide in July amid the pandemic. It is understood that he did not take furlough money.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir James said: ‘I think we’ve got to recover our economy. We’ve got to encourage entrepreneurship and wealth creation.

‘That’s the way out of this, and it will be hard work, but that’s what we’ve got to do.

Sir James Dyson said British workers should get back to their offices as he predicted ‘entrepreneurship and wealth creation’ are central to the UK’s economic recovery 

Sir James demonstrating his hoovering invention in March 2005 - a vacuum cleaner which replaced the traditional four wheels with one ball to guide it across the floor

Sir James demonstrating his hoovering invention in March 2005 – a vacuum cleaner which replaced the traditional four wheels with one ball to guide it across the floor

Leaders from four Covid-hit northern cities, Manchester (pictured), Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle have written to Mr Johnson begging him not to ramp-up coronavirus restrictions

Leaders from four Covid-hit northern cities, Manchester (pictured), Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle have written to Mr Johnson begging him not to ramp-up coronavirus restrictions

‘I think we should talk less about pubs and more about how we get people back to work and get entrepreneurs and businesses active again.’

Asked by presenter Nick Robinson how to achieve economic growth, Sir James curtly responded: ‘Getting people back to work is a good start.’

He added: ‘You need the interaction of other people to make progress, and – above all – you can’t train people if they’re at home.

‘I’m 73, when I come into work every day I’m learning all the time, we’re all learning from each other. And you can’t train people and learn if you’re sitting at home.’

Sir James explained that the outbreak of coronavirus in the winter forced a revolution in Dyson’s business model as they closed factories and shops closed.

‘What we recognised right at the beginning, in late January and early February, was that the shops were going to shut, our factories would close, and we had to do something about it,’ he told the Today programme.

‘So we took a decision to sell direct, rather than sell through shops which were shut, and that meant that we changed how we do things, how we do our business.

‘Unfortunately quite a number of jobs were therefore made redundant, we didn’t need people to sell to shops.’

Sir James, best known as the inventor of the Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner, suggested talking 'less about pubs' and 'more about how we get people back to work'. He conceded it would be 'hard work' but insisted 'that's what we've got to do' (pictured with his wife Deirdre)

Sir James, best known as the inventor of the Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner, suggested talking ‘less about pubs’ and ‘more about how we get people back to work’. He conceded it would be ‘hard work’ but insisted ‘that’s what we’ve got to do’ (pictured with his wife Deirdre)

The 73-year-old businessman took a swipe at the Government's threats to impose another national lockdown as he urged caution against moves to wreck the economy a second time

The 73-year-old businessman took a swipe at the Government’s threats to impose another national lockdown as he urged caution against moves to wreck the economy a second time 

6,000 scientists and medics sign anti-lockdown petition calling for ‘focused protection’ of vulnerable people from COVID so the young can build herd immunity 

More than 6,000 scientists and medics have signed an anti-lockdown petition calling for the UK and US to build herd immunity against Covid-19 by letting the virus spread in young people. 

The letter, which was penned by three top scientists and has since been backed by nearly 60,000 members of the public, warns that tough social distancing rules are having ‘damaging physical and mental health impacts’. 

Most of the population, they argue, is not at risk of dying if they catch Covid-19 and efforts should be focused on protecting those who are vulnerable, while letting everyone else get on with their lives as normal.

The letter, named the Great Barrington Declaration after the town in Massachusetts where it was written, is a rallying cry for top experts and politicians to stop running from the coronavirus and to learn to live with it. Almost 2,800 scientists have signed the petition, as well as 3,600 medical practitioners.

‘Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal,’ the scientists say, adding: ‘Keeping these [lockdown] measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.’

One of the three authors is University of Oxford professor Dr Sunetra Gupta, who is now renowned for her controversial views on herd immunity.

She wrote the declaration alongside Harvard University’s Dr Martin Kulldorff and Stanford’s Dr Jay Bhattacharya. 

But the petition has been met with concern – one scientist pointed out it doesn’t take into account problems other than death, such as ‘long covid’, and that it overlooks the fact there is no proof that herd immunity is even possible.

The renowned inventor also urged ‘caution’ against government attempts to impose a second national lockdown in a hint that the panic measure wrecked the UK economy.

It comes as reports suggest a Cabinet split over the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis between the so-called economy ‘hawks’ and lockdown ‘doves’.

Allies of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, including Home Secretary Priti Patel, are understood to be trying to restrain the Prime Minister’s desire to shut the country for a second time.

The wrangling is believed to be holding up the announcement of a new three-tier ‘traffic light’ system, intended to clear up confusion about what rules apply where in England.

Mr Johnson, together with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office chief Michael Gove, is said to be under the influence of his chief medical and scientific advisers, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.

Whitty and Valance presented a sensational chart at a Downing Street press conference last month which suggested there would be 50,000 daily cases of coronavirus by mid-October – next week.

Their tendency to encourage the toughest anti-Covid restrictions has been criticised by Conservative backbenchers who seek to prevent a second national lockdown.

Tory shop steward Sir Graham Brady and arch-Brexiteer Steven Baker have criticised the Government’s ‘rule by decree’ and the dire economic consequences of the March lockdown – which include a 20 per cent fall in GDP, a significant recession, an anticipated jobs bloodbath and the death of the High Street.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Scotland today which would include swingeing curbs on the hospitality sector and local travel.

The hospitality sector has voiced alarm at the idea of a crackdown, warning it could devastate jobs.

Emma McClarkin, of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘If the Scottish Government is to implement further harsh restrictive measures to our sector, it must include a dedicated package of support alongside it.

‘Without it, the Scottish Government will leave our pubs and thousands of jobs doomed to failure.’

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said a targeted approach would work better than bringing in ‘more draconian rules’.

‘At the moment we do not need to bring in any more rules that will hammer the hospitality sector, or the economy at large. There needs to be a razor-sharp focus on getting the current systems running smoothly and effectively,’ he wrote in The Sun.

‘We need to hold our nerve, rather than hitting the panic button.’  

Boris Johnson is facing a cabinet row over his tougher coronavirus crackdown plans, according to reports, as Northern city leaders last night pleaded with ministers not to impose lockdown-style measures.

Rishi Sunak made an 11th-hour intervention to delay the announcement of a new three-tier Covid alert system, the Telegraph reports.

Boris Johnson (pictured left at PMQs today) is desperately trying to balance fears over a surge in infections and hospitalisations, particularly in the North, with Rishi Sunak (right) believed to be leading Cabinet unrest over the threat to millions of jobs and civil liberties

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