Tuesday 5 July 2016 11:59 am

Game of unknowns: why Gove's attacks on corporatism are the last thing the economy needs

An establishment outcast with a skill for political maneuver – there is an unnerving parallel between Michael Gove and Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones.

And with the blood barely dry from his bludgeoning of Boris, the wannabe PM has wasted little time pin pointing his next line of attack, none other than the world of big business.

More specifically, Gove has honed in on fat cat executives working for the big corporates, who he says pay themselves “Steve Jobs money when performing like David Brent.”

And he is not the only one, fellow leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom launched her own assault yesterday, stating that “boardroom pay rises bearing no resemblance to company performance is unacceptable.”

While corporatism is certainly something that needs to be addressed, politically, one has to question the timing of these comments.

Read More: Tory leadership contest: What we know so far

And particularly from Gove, who unlike Leadsom, has no experience of what goes on inside a boardroom.

Because the targeting of a very specific section of business for political point scoring comes at an uncertain period for the markets.

Gove’s pigeonholing of corporates is only likely to antagonise those currently mulling over whether to stay put, or up sticks and move to Frankfurt or Paris.

The latter would of course mean investment flowing out of the City and the loss of much-needed tax revenues coming into the exchequer.

And more importantly for the UK economy, bigger corporations tend to pay higher wages, enjoy higher profits, are more successful in international markets, and invest more in research and development.  

So while Gove is right to fight for an enterprise culture of payment by performance, what businesses, and the UK economy, crave above anything else at the moment is reassurance. 

Read More: Johnson adds some zap to Leadsom's leadership bid

The question they want answering and quickly is – what will Britain’s relationship with the single market look like? And attacks like Gove only raise more issues.

In Gove’s much-loved Game of Thrones, his favourite character Tyrion kills the man closest to him.

One can't help but think that while Gove’s recently killing of his closest political ally may have won the Westminster battle, turning his blade to big business may cost the UK when renegotiation begins.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.