Business leaders warn Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would be worse for Britain than crashing out of EU without a deal
A Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would be worse for Britain than crashing out of the EU without a deal, business leaders have warned.
Labour’s plans to renationalise swathes of the UK’s utilities companies and transport networks, seize private property and confiscate shares to hand to employees have unnerved industry bosses.
Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference yesterday, Corbyn tried to win over the business community.
If the cap fits: Speaking at the CBI’s annual conference, Jeremy Corbyn tried to win over the business community
He promised to tackle late payments in supply chains, reform business rates and improve access to finance for smaller companies. But bosses attending the conference proved less sympathetic to some of Labour’s more controversial policies.
Chris Buxton, chief executive of engineering trade body the British Fluid Power Association, said: ‘I would rather crash out of Europe with No Deal than elect a Corbyn government. I remember being a child in the 70s, being gathered around a candle waiting for the power to come back on, and we absolutely don’t want to return to that.
‘But that’s what we’ll get if we stick with Labour’s nationalisation plans.’
Last week, Labour announced plans to nationalise BT’s Openreach division in an effort to provide free full-fibre broadband to every home and business in the UK.
It is also planning to bring the Royal Mail, rail-operating companies, energy suppliers and water companies into public ownership.
At yesterday’s conference, the CBI’s director-general Carolyn Fairbairn warned that the plans were ‘sending a chill through boardrooms’ as businesses wondered ‘who might be next’.
Corbyn denied being ‘anti-business’. He said: ‘It’s not anti-business to be anti-poverty pay, it’s not anti-business to want the largest corporations to pay their taxes just as smaller companies do.’
But even the smaller firms that Corbyn was trying to win over were reluctant to side with the leader of the opposition.
Klaus Henke, managing director of technology company Billmonitor, said: ‘Labour should be able to wipe the floor with the Tories after all of this Brexit delay.
‘But Labour’s policies are so unpalatable, with the high spending, nationalisation and lack of clarity over Brexit, it makes them unelectable.’
Mark Spragg, managing director of business consultancy Where Now Consulting, added: ‘Labour’s policies are from the 1970s. We’re in a changed world. The future has to be with the next generation.’
Boris Johnson laid out the Tories plans’ for business, apologising for postponing cuts to corporation tax that were due to bring the rate from 19 per cent to 17 per cent next year.