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David Cameron has said the UK economy will need "generous help to reopen" and that Rishi Sunak should not consider measures to fix the budget deficit until an economic recovery is well under way.
The former prime minister told Times Radio that "we're going to have to think about fixing the roof again when the sun is shining", but that "we're not there yet".
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Sunak has spent around £190bn on emergency coronavirus measures this year, bringing the expected budget deficit to £350bn.
It has been speculated in recent weeks that he is considering announcing tax rises on the UK's wealthiest in his autumn budget to offset some of the Covid spending.
Cameron said it would be unfair for the chancellor to reach for austerity-type measures until the economy had recovered as the government "deliberately reduced GDP as an act of policy".
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"Economically we are responding to something now that is not the aftermath of a financial crisis..we're responding to the fact we had to close down part of our economy," he said.
"We are going to have to make difficult decisions and, as we hopefully reach sunlit uplands of growth again, we're going to have to think about fixing the roof again when the sun is shining, but we're not there yet."
Cameron also spoke about the government's coronavirus response in the wide-ranging interview, including Boris Johnson's absence in a series of Cobra meetings earlier this year.
Johnson missed five emergency Cobra meetings about coronavirus when it had begun to spread in China.
"I didn't always attend the first Cobra of every emergency but I had to focus on it quite quickly, not just because prime ministers are superhuman and are the only person who can take decision. but to bang the table and ask obvious questions.
"You have got to get in there quite quickly and drive progress."
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He added: "I don't know exactly what the circumstances are, so I am not passing judgement.
"[But] if you wanted to get stuff done, there is something about the prime minister turning up that helps to drive decision making."
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