Five blue chip bosses back Tory pledges

THE TORIES yesterday wheeled out a series of business leaders who support their plans for the economy.

Xstrata chief executive Mick Davis and Kingfisher boss Ian Cheshire were among five FTSE 100 bosses endorsing a new set of Tory policies that included a pledge to safeguard Britain’s AAA credit rating.

Autonomy chief executive Mike Lynch, GlaxoSmithKline’s Andrew Witty, Diageo boss Paul Walsh and Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou also threw their weight behind eight “economic benchmarks” that were laid out by shadow chancellor George Osborne in a speech at the British Museum.

Osborne staked his reputation as a potential future chancellor on his ability to protect Britain’s AAA credit rating.

“I know that we are taking a political gamble to set this up as a measure of success. Protecting the credit rating will not be easy. The largest bond investor in the world [Pimco] thinks there is an 80 per cent chance of a downgrade,” he said.

But the speech was light on details of how Osborne hopes to reduce the UK’s yawning £178bn budget deficit. Economists say it must be tackled to avoid a downgrade.

He said only that the Tories would eliminate a “large part” of the structural deficit in a first parliament.

He also said the Tories would improve Britain’s international rankings for tax competitiveness and business regulation, although he stopped short of announcing any concrete proposals.

Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, said: “Business will now want to see more detailed plans explaining how these proposals could be delivered on the ground, and over what sort of time scale.”