Former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has launched a blistering attack on Zac Goldsmith, calling the Conservative candidate for mayor of London a “threat to London jobs and businesses”.
Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham who has endorsed Goldsmith's Labour opponent Sadiq Khan, said: “Londoners can’t afford a mayor who doesn’t get business, doesn’t like business, and won’t stand up for business and jobs.”
“Zac Goldsmith doesn’t understand the challenges businesses face,” he added, citing Goldsmith’s previous comments on the European Union and Heathrow airport.
“London’s business community says that staying in Europe is vital to their prosperity – but Goldsmith wants to take us out of the world’s largest market,” Umunna said. “He says he doesn’t trust big business. And he’s opposed to any expansion in airport capacity, which London’s business community needs to keep up with our competitors.”
A spokeswoman for Goldsmith's campaign said: "We will take no lectures from a Labour party who would increase taxes and regulation on London, risking jobs and living standards.
"Most businesses share Zac's view that the EU should be reformed so it works better for the people of London."
Goldsmith is a self-described Eurosceptic but has not said that he would campaign or vote for Britain to leave the European Union in the in/out referendum. He is, however, ardently opposed to a third runway at Heathrow, and has vowed to resign from his Richmond Park seat if the government supports expansion at the west London airport.
In 2012, Goldsmith questioned the influence of big business on government policy, saying: “We have allowed a situation where our banks have grown too big to fail, single supermarket firms control nearly a third of the retail market and distort policy, political decisions are taken at a level that ordinary people can never influence, and industrial- scale agribusiness is tearing up the planet.”
It is not uncommon for a Labour MP to call out his Conservative counterpart, but Umunna’s intervention will raise eyebrows given he is longer on Labour’s frontbench. Newly-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed Angela Eagle to replace Umunna as shadow business secretary last month.