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.