Covid means UK needs EU deal to avoid calamity, says Lord O’Donnell

Former head of the civil service to accuse government of range of failures in IFS lecture

The combination of a no-deal Brexit and a second wave of Covid-19 represents such a serious threat to the UK that a trade deal with Brussels is needed to avoid a “calamitous outcome”, according to the former head of the civil service.

In a withering attack on the government’s handling of the pandemic over the past six months, Gus O’Donnell – who headed the civil service under three prime ministers – will say on Thursday that the UK faces a perfect storm and that a trade agreement with the EU is “absolutely imperative” to head off serious disruption.

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