THE PRIME Minister has been accused of copying Margaret Thatcher by 'deliberately' allowing unemployment levels to soar.

Ian Blackford, SNP MP and the party's Westminster Leader, said it was "clear" Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were copying the controversial Prime Minister.

Under Thatcher, UK unemployment levels reached a peak of 9.5 per cent, in 1984, at a time when the economy was suffering recession.

Mr Blackford has urged Mr Johnson and the Chancellor to "see sense" and retain the 80 per cent furlough wage subsidy, as well as the £20 Universal Credit increase, to help prevent mass poverty.

In a letter to the PM, the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP wrote: "Unless your government’s economic choices change now, millions on the dole and in poverty will be the direct consequence of the political and moral choices your government is making.

"There are two choices you and your government can make - right now - that will help prevent this coming to pass: Make the lifeline of the £20 Universal uplift permanent and extend it to all legacy benefits [and ] extend the full furlough scheme, at 80% wage support, beyond the end this month."

"Unless you change course now, your government is steering the UK towards a devastating future of mass redundancies and soaring poverty, which will cause lasting harm to our communities."

Mr Blackford told Mr Johnson that it was "deeply unfair" that "just as health restrictions are being strengthened, economic supports are being weakened."

Speaking later, he said: "It has been clear for some time that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have taken a deliberate decision to let unemployment rise – just as the Tories did under Thatcher in the 1980s. If the Tories do withdraw this crucial support, in the middle of a pandemic, they will never be forgiven for the damage they will do.

"For many, it is already too late. Thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and good businesses have already gone under because the Tories failed to deliver the support required.

"The SNP has been calling for a U-turn on Tory plans to slash Universal Credit, and scrap the furlough scheme, for the past six months. With a second wave of coronavirus hitting the UK, and increased restrictions in place, it is vital that, even at this late stage, the Prime Minister and Chancellor finally see sense and extend financial support to protect people's jobs and incomes.

"Scotland has been put in the impossible position of responding to this unprecedented crisis at the same time that the Tories have been cutting back support, and deliberately blocking the devolution of the financial powers the Scottish Parliament needs to protect our economy."

A Government spokesman said: "We’ve invested an extra £9 billion in our welfare system to help those most in need through the pandemic, including by increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £20 a week, as well as introducing income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters.

“The Government will continue to do all it can to support the lowest paid families while focusing on helping people into work. This includes launching the Kickstart Scheme, a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people.”