May speech shows PM's change of tack on business

For most of her first two years in office, Theresa May gave the impression of not liking business very much.
One of her earliest acts as Prime Minister was to dismantle the business advisory panel put in place by her predecessor, David Cameron, which had included the bosses of some of Britain's biggest companies.Then there were the policies.Mrs May proposed putting workers on boards but, after the Chancellor Philip Hammond and the then communities secretary Sajid Javid criticised the idea in cabinet, she dropped it.Another idea abandoned was a proposal to make employers reveal what proportion of their workforce are immigrants - in what was interpreted as an attempt to name and shame businesses failing to employ enough Britons.One measure that was pushed through was the introduction of a price cap on energy bills, an idea first proposed by the former Labour leader Ed Miliband, in the face of opposition from the energy industry.The jury is still out on whether the policy will achieve any positive outcomes.Mrs May also made an inflammatory speech at the Conservative Party conference in 2016 in which she said: "If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don't understand what citizenship means."That was interpreted as an attack on international business leaders whose work frequently takes them from one country to another and many took offence.So, too, did Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, who is Canadian.The constructive relationship with business that had existed under Mr Cameron - and, indeed, under his Labour predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair - was abandoned.
May speech shows PM's change of tack on business

Carlos Ghosn of Nissan was one of the few bosses who enjoyed a direct line to Downing Street as Mrs May began her premiership
Apart from a handful of bosses from the car industry, such as Carlos Ghosn of Nissan, the direct line to 10 Downing Street that senior business leaders had previously enjoyed was cut off.They were told to address any concerns to Greg Clark, the business secretary, although a handful of executives were invited to join Mrs May on a trip to India.Complaints that Mrs May had not met many business people were common.The 2017 general election and the subsequent departure of Mrs May's former chief of staff Nick Timothy, who was widely seen as anti-business, changed all that.
May speech shows PM's change of tack on business

Sky's economics editor Ed Conway digests the latest tax plans from Labour and the Tories.
Policies perceived by as hostile to business were ditched.Mrs May began inviting small groups of business people for meetings and social events in Downing Street.Her speech on Wednesday to the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, a high-powered business audience, was indicative of that change of approach.This was a clear attempt to reassure businesses anxious about the UK's governance and prospects, post-Brexit, with a pledge that her government will be "unequivocally pro-business" after the UK leaves the EU.The most eye-catching pledge in her speech was a promise that, "whatever your business, investing in a post-Brexit Britain will give you the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G20".
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