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120 business leaders back UK’s Labour in election

The UK’s Labour party won the backing on Tuesday of 120 business leaders.

London's financial district. — Image by © Tim Sandle
London's financial district. — Image by © Tim Sandle

The UK’s Labour party won the backing on Tuesday of 120 business leaders, in a timely boost as it bids to oust the ruling Conservatives in the upcoming general election.

The coalition of CEOs and other senior figures, which includes some well-known names from British business, said in a joint letter that it was “time for a change”.

The grouping argued the UK economy had been “beset by instability, stagnation and a lack of long-term focus” and the country lacked “the skills and infrastructure it needs to flourish”.

“Labour has shown it has changed and wants to work with business to achieve the UK’s full economic potential,” the letter published in The Times stated.

“We should now give it the chance to change the country and lead Britain into the future.”

Its signatories include senior figures in various industries, from banking and advertising to retail and technology.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and Tom Kerridge, the restaurateur, are among the notable names on the list.

Labour leader Keir Starmer's party is well ahead of the ruling Conservatives ahead of the July 4 election

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s party is well ahead of the ruling Conservatives ahead of the July 4 election – Copyright AFP/File KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI

The endorsement comes with Labour at pains to show it has moved decisively away from a less business-friendly period under former leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He presided over the party’s worst election result in decades in 2019, and quit as leader the following year.

The Conservatives, in power for 14 years, have typically been more trusted by Britain’s business community, but have seen that reputation dented in recent years following Brexit and other controversies.

Ex-prime minister Liz Truss’s disastrous 49-day tenure in 2022, when her tax-cutting agenda spooked markets, has been blamed in particular for shredding confidence in the party’s reputation for economic competency.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the July 4 election with the Tories lagging well behind Labour in the polls.

His campaign has made a faltering start, with a post-WWII record number of its MPs announcing they will not run and signs of infighting erupting into public view.

Labour leader Keir Starmer and its finance spokesperson Rachel Reeves — who is set to become finance minister if the party wins power — have spent years wooing back business figures.

Reeves will maintain the strategy Tuesday in a speech to industry leaders, promising to lead “the most pro-growth Treasury” in history, according to Labour.

She will tell the audience that the party can now offer “a government that is pro-worker and pro-business, in the knowledge that each depends upon the success of the other”.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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