Labour wins endorsement from 120 business leaders

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has declared that a Labour government would swiftly implement taxes on private school fees.

Labour has gained the endorsement of a coalition of 120 business leaders, who argue that the UK needs a “new outlook” to overcome a decade of economic stagnation.

In a letter to The Times, these executives describe the economy as suffering from “instability, stagnation and a lack of long-term focus” and view the upcoming election as an opportunity to transform the country.

The signatories include senior figures from various sectors, including finance, technology, and retail, all advocating for change to help the UK achieve its full economic potential. Notable names among the signatories are former executives from JP Morgan, Heathrow, Aston Martin, JD Sports, Iceland, and WPP, along with high-profile figures like Wikipedia founder Sir Jimmy Wales and renowned chef Tom Kerridge. The founder of a childcare company, where the prime minister’s wife previously held shares, is also among the supporters.

This endorsement follows extensive efforts by Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who have been courting business support ahead of the general election. The Labour Party aims to position itself as the pro-business party, a title traditionally claimed by the Conservatives, who have long used endorsements from business leaders to bolster their economic credibility during election campaigns.

The endorsement also mirrors the result of a survey by the British Business Excellence Awards that found that 40 per cent of the 1,000 business owners which took part in the Trends Research poll intended to vote for labour in the General Election.

Since taking on the role of shadow chancellor, Reeves has actively engaged with City and business leaders, recently saying that Labour would be more pro-business than during Tony Blair’s tenure, promising to stimulate private sector investment.

Key signatories of the letter include:
Andy Palmer, former CEO of Aston Martin
John Holland-Kaye, former CEO of Heathrow
Andrew Higginson, chairman of JD Sports
Charles Harman, former vice-chairman at JP Morgan Cazenove
Charles Randell, former chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority
Sir Malcolm Walker, founder of Iceland

Rachel Carrell, founder of Koru Kids, a company where Akshata Murty, Sunak’s wife, previously held shares, also signed the letter.

The letter states: “We, as leaders and investors in British business, believe it is time for a change. For too long, our economy has been beset by instability, stagnation and a lack of long-term focus. The UK has the potential to be one of the strongest economies in the world. A lack of political stability and the absence of consistent economic strategy have held it back. The country has been denied the skills and infrastructure it needs to flourish.”

The letter continues: “Labour has shown it has changed and wants to work with business to achieve the UK’s full economic potential. We should now give it the chance to change the country and lead Britain into the future. We are in urgent need of a new outlook to break free from the stagnation of the past decade and we hope by taking this public stand we might persuade others of that need too.”

At an event on Tuesday, Reeves is expected to state: “If we can bring business back to Labour, then I know we can bring business back to Britain — to bring investment back to Britain. To bring growth back to Britain. To bring hope back to Britain.”

This endorsement marks a significant boost for Labour, highlighting a growing desire among business leaders for a change in economic strategy and political stability to unlock the UK’s full potential.

The Lib Dems told BBC News that businesses are “crying out for stability and certainty after years of the Conservatives’ chaos and mismanagement”.

Adding: “The Liberal Democrats would launch an industrial strategy to boost investment and reform the broken business rates system to support our high streets”.

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Labour wins endorsement from 120 business leaders