Top bosses hit out at Labour over jobs tax

THERE was anger among business leaders yesterday, after the Prime Minister said they had been “deceived” into supporting Tory plans to scrap the hike in National Insurance.

A further 30 business leaders added their name to a letter supporting the Conservative position on the “tax on jobs” yesterday, taking the total number of signatories to 68.

Luke Johnson, the serial entrepreneur behind Pizza Express and ex-Channel 4 chairman, was one of them. He told City A.M. Brown’s comments were “insulting”.

He said: “It is patronising and insulting of the Labour Party to suggest that I and others are so unsophisticated to fall for a specious argument.

“Every employer or entrepreneur that I’ve spoken to thinks that increasing it next year is misguided if you want to create jobs.”

At a rowdy session of Prime Minister’s questions, Tory leader David Cameron quoted Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh, who said: “It’s not true to claim businesses have been deceived.”

Brown is planning to increase National Insurance contributions by one per cent from April 2011, although the Tories argue that such a move would ruin the economic recovery.

Last week, 23 business leaders – including Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose and Kingfisher chief Ian Cheshire – signed a letter backing Tory plans to scrap the rise for 70 per cent of workers.

Since then, there has been a groundswell of support for the Tories. New signatories include Corus chief Kirby Adams and Reed Elsevier chairman Anthony Habgood.