POLITICS
06/10/2020 17:41 BST

Liam Gallagher Brands Rishi Sunak A C*** For Suggesting Covid-Hit Musicians Can Retrain

Oasis man leads backlash after chancellor suggests people in arts who cannot work due to ongoing restrictions can take up "fresh and new opportunity".

Rishi Sunak has sparked a backlash from leading musicians after suggesting people in the arts who cannot work due to coronavirus restrictions can retrain.

The chancellor said the government was providing “fresh and new opportunities” when asked if professional musicians, for example, should retrain in they event that they cannot work due to restrictions which are due to last at least another five months.

In an interview with ITV news, Sunak claimed it was “probably not quite right” to suggest there is no work available for musicians, actors, artists, freelancers and others, insisting “in all walks of life everyone is having to adapt”.

“I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job they were doing at the beginning of this crisis,” he added.

But his intervention sparked a backlash from leading figures in the arts, including Liam Gallagher, former Bake Off host Sue Perkins, author Ian Rankin and former Charlatans singer Tim Burgess.

Gallagher argued the UK would be in a poor state without arts, music and football. The former Oasis frontman also described Sunak as a “massive c**t”.

Perkins quipped that she would be “retraining as chancellor of the exchequer” while Burgess suggested “maybe some MPs should retrain, as they aren’t really doing their job anyway”.

In an interview with ITV News, Sunak highlighted the government’s £1.5bn “cultural recovery programme”, saying money had gone to independent cinemas and music venues over the last week.

Put to him that the arts and culture industry does not believe it has enough support, Sunak replied: “It’s a very sad time. Three quarters of a million people have already lost their jobs, we know that, and that is likely to increase and many more people will. 

“I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job they were doing at the beginning of this crisis and that’s why we’ve put a lot of our extra resource into trying to create new opportunities for people.

“Our Kickstart scheme, for example, for young people who are most at risk of becoming unemployed, all the way up to the age of 24, are going to benefit from a fully funded job placement.”

Put to the chancellor that he was telling people to “go and get a different job”, Sunak replied: “That fresh and new opportunity for people – that’s exactly what we should be doing.”

He went on: “In all walks of life everyone is having to adapt. I’m getting emails and seeing how theatre companies are adapting and putting on different kinds of performances. It is possible to do theatrical performances online as well and for people to engage with them that way and for new business models to emerge. Plenty of music lessons are still carrying on – the same thing happens, certainly in my household and elsewhere. 

“So, yes, can things happen in exactly the way they did? No. But everyone is having to find ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality, and that’s what we all have to do, and that’s why we are allowing that to happen and also providing new opportunity for people if that’s the right vehicle for them.”

A Treasury source also highlighted the £1.5bn cultural industries fund, and stressed that “Rishi agrees with the sentiment that music and the arts are a crucial part of our cultural fabric as a country”.