Monday 18 November 2019 5:30 am

Sajid Javid: My pitch to the businesses of Britain

Sajid Javid is former Chancellor of the Exchequer

Britain’s 6m businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. They have driven
employment to record highs, with wages outstripping inflation. And they have made our country a hotbed of furious innovation in products and services.

We would all like to see higher economic growth — after a decade of recovery from the last Labour government our economy remains strong compared to its neighbours and competitors.

Now it’s time to build on that with low taxes, clear fiscal rules and support for free enterprise. Conservatives understand that a dynamic free market economy is the best and only way to fund our public services. That’s why we’ve already reduced corporation tax to just 19 per cent, the lowest of major advanced economies.

At this election, and in the budget that follows it, we’ll focus on helping business in other ways too — with lower business rates and tax cuts to help firms invest in their people and their plans. When you cut some taxes, investment and productivity rises, and so does the tax yield. The left have never understood that, and never will.

But the contrast at this election is not about who will set what rates at which level, it is far more fundamental. The Labour party is now led by two people who have never accepted the broad consensus of the past 30 years that vibrant business and a competitive market economy is what drives growth.

Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell are hoping that people forget what happened with the failed policies of the past so they can indulge in ideological experiments.

Delivering Brexit

Beware of Marxists bearing gifts. We will all pay the price for their fantasy economics — it will destroy jobs, burn people’s hard-earned pension funds and set our nation back. Their latest wheeze for “free” broadband is their most audacious con trick yet. It means yet another commitment to seize the private investments of millions of people who own a piece of BT.

It wouldn’t be free. All of us would still have to pay through our taxes, and it could destroy major firms like BT, Virgin Media and Sky in our country. And why would we want politicians running our broadband businesses any more than we’d want them running a bakery?

Why would anyone invest in our country with such a threat hanging over them? That’s on top of the £300bn McDonnell has already said he wants to take from people who own shares in Britain’s best firms.

So the risk from Labour at this election is clear. But Boris Johnson and I know we have questions to answer from business.

First and foremost we must tackle the uncertainty around Brexit. We must get Brexit done. I know many business groups and employers were hesitant about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. We were right to prepare properly, but we always wanted to avoid it. Only a majority Tory government can finally do this.

Our deal is ready to go and we’ll put it through within weeks. We’ll then benefit from a significant deal dividend, unlocking pent up demand across our economy — a vital step to reinforce our strength in the face of global turbulence.

And once the deal is through parliament, we can get on with building the full future partnership with our EU friends, including an ambitious best-in-class deep free trade agreement.

Bringing certainty and ending the political paralysis in parliament is just the first step that allows us to get on with everything else that matters to people. We know there is much more to do to help businesses, particularly for smaller firms.

That’s why at the CBI today, the Prime Minister will set out more on how we will make Britain the best country in the world to start, grow and run a business.

Most important of the plans we are announcing today is a full review of business rates. The system didn’t work properly when my dad ran a shop, and it certainly doesn’t work properly in the digital age so it’s important to look at it in the round and ultimately lower the burden of rates. That’s on top of the immediate help we announced last week for local services like shops and pubs.

A business election

We’ll also cut business taxes on jobs, construction and research and development to help ensure firms are in the best possible position to take advantage of Brexit.

And we’ll do it while delivering an infrastructure revolution that will lay the foundations for a decade of renewal and connect us better together as a country. Last week I set out plans to borrow responsibly through clear fiscal rules to ensure we have 21st century road and rail links, the best broadband and the greenest economy.

So we will offer businesses certainty, reduced costs, smart long-term investment and responsible economic management. The alternative is what would surely be the worst government for business and the economy in modern history.

On 12 December the very people who drive our growth and prosperity face the prospect of a government that loathes them and wants to strangle their businesses.

Labour’s agenda is one of straightforward theft from investors, and spiralling debt that would destroy everything the British people have worked so hard for. That’s the cost of Corbyn — and it’s a cost our businesses and everyone who relies on them simply cannot afford.

Main image: Getty

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.

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