THE owner of Brighton Palace Pier has warned that the impacts of job losses caused by the UK lockdown “can kill people”.

Luke Johnson also said he believed the economic impacts of lockdown could soon be causing more deaths than coronavirus.

The businessman made the statement during an appearance on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday night.

He said: “There are five of us on the programme and I would say four out of the five of us are in the public sector.

"I’m the only one in the private sector. Actually, in terms of the shape of the economy, 85 per cent working in the economy are in the private sector. No one here, today, is going to lose their job because of Covid.

The Argus:

“But, believe me, there’s a real risk that millions of people in the private sector are going to see their careers demolished and I think that really matters.

“Unemployment can kill people, and I think it needs to be taken into account. Also, how are we going to pay for the £170 billion a year that the NHS costs us if the economy is in the toilet?”

The Palace Pier celebrated its 120th anniversary last year and has repeatedly been voted as one of the UK’s top tourist attractions, attracting thousands of tourists to the city.

In October, the The Brighton Pier Group revealed the attraction generated £14.7 million in revenue in the year to the end of June. It has been shut since March as Government rules sought to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Argus:

Mr Johnson told Question Time host Fiona Bruce there had been 350 deaths of people under the aged of 60 “with no other morbidities” from the virus.

He said: “You are more likely to drown, there are 400 people a year that drown. So I think we have to get things a bit in context.

“Every death is tragic but believe me we are entering, no we are already in, the largest recession for 300 years. In fact it’s not just one recession, the Bank of England has said the economy will shrink by 14 per cent. That’s the equivalent of two recessions, it’s a depression and I wouldn’t be surprised if we have two million more unemployed people within a year.

The Argus:

“Imagine the agony of two million more unemployed people. How many deaths might flow from that?

“How many deaths are flowing from the fact that we’ve got half as many A&E appointments at the moment? Cancer patients not being seen, people with heart disease not being seen.

"And the collateral damage of this campaign of fear and lockdown has to be taken into account. Very soon I think lockdown will be causing more deaths than the virus.”

  • At The Argus, we are championing the work of traders during the coronavirus pandemic as part of our #BackingSussexBusiness campaign. We are always interested to hear how the community is coming together in this crisis. If you know of a local business battling to do all it can in these tough times and/or offering support to the local community, please get in touch at and