Nick Clegg pledges his party’s backing for British businesses

NICK Clegg will tonight attempt to position his Liberal Democrat party as a natural ally of business and the historic home “of industrialists and small business”.

He is expected to tell the annual dinner of TheCityUK, the financial services trade body, that his party are “staunch advocates of free trade between open economies” and “long believers in the power of enterprise to help individuals fulfil their own potential, while serving society at large.”

While recognising that they have been “loud critics of corporate irresponsibility”, Clegg will insist that the Lib Dems back the City.

“From now on, I intend to be much more open about our efforts to support British business. I want you to be confident that my party is on business’ side. That we are determined to put the private sector at the heart of a strong, rebalanced economy,” he will tell the gathering at the Mansion House.

“First, we need a balanced, engaged approach to Europe – essential to the interests of the City. Second, we must prioritise lending to sound business... Third, we need to lead the shift to a more responsible, more sustainable corporate culture.”

The event also marks the first day of Standard Life’s Gerry Grimstone being chairman of TheCityUK. He will say that “regaining trust and credibility in the eyes of a sceptical public” must be the sector’s objective, through improving its focus on serving customers well.