EU referendum vote was the public's "howl of pain" against big businesses

Hayley Kirton
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EU Referendum - Signage And Symbols
Even the audience confessed that they thought business deserved its bad reputation (Source: Getty)

Last month's Brexit vote was the public's way of saying enough is enough to Britain's biggest businesses, a panel of experts has explained today.

Speaking at the annual debate of the Management Consultancies Association, Stephen Kinnock MP described last month's vote for Brexit as a "howl of pain" and indicated that people wanted to take back control.

"I think it's really important for everyone who works in the London understand that the rest of the UK out there is just a different world," Kinnock said.

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However, Jonathon Porritt, founder, director and trustee for Forum of the Future, said that he found it difficult to see the Brexit vote as people taking a stance against businesses, but added that it was likely sparked by people who had a problem with the so-called elite "and, if you like, there are many individual business people who are in that elite".

"I don't think it's business as a whole," Porritt added.

According to Ipsos MORI data, just four per cent of people say that British business is something that makes them proud of their nationality, although 85 per cent of people also said that they wanted British business to do well.

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Meanwhile, Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, pointed out that, since the 1970s, people have shifted away from believing that businesses doing well and turning a profit benefited the country as a whole.

Kinnock also said, as part of helping businesses regain the trust of the public, he would call for "full publication, full transparency on beneficial ownership of companies" and for businesses to drop quarterly reporting in a bid to put an end to short-termism.

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However, while Kinnock and Porritt would also call for a reexamining of executive pay as another way to regain trust, Page's company's data indicated that this was one issue that people had more stomach for.

"The public has quite a lot of tolerance for successful entrepreneurs, people who have character," said Page.

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