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Corporation tax cut axed as Johnson backs overseas talent

Boris Johnson: ‘priorities’

Boris Johnson today said a Conservative government would postpone a planned cut in corporation tax which had been due to fall from 19% to 17% next year.

Mr Johnson, addressing the CBI annual conference, said the funds saved would be diverted into front line services.

“Let me remind you that this saves £6bn that we can put into the priorities of the British people including the NHS and we have already cut it from 28% to 19%,” he said.

He reminded delegates that Britain would still have the lowest corporation tax of any major economy and warned that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would “whack it straight back up to the highest levels in Europe”.

On the prospects for securing a Brexit agreement, he said: “We’re off to a flying start – I see absolutely no reason why we should not get it done in the time available.”

He said he believed in having a country that is open to talents but there would be controls on immigration as there are in other countries, including the US. He assured various sectors across the economy that they would be able to attract the workers they need.

He also gave a “categoric” assurance that Sajid Javid would remain as Chancellor if the Tories are re-elected to government.

Corbyn: ‘I’m not anti-business’

Mr Corbyn told his audience that he was not “anti-business” and that business had much to gain from a Labour government. In what was a clear response to allegations that the party was hostile to business, he appealed to delegates “to work with us”.

He said: “It’s sometimes claimed that I’m anti-business. That is complete nonsense. 

“It’s not anti-business to be against poverty pay. It’s not anti-business to say the largest corporations should pay their taxes just as smaller companies do. It’s not anti-business to want prosperity in every part of our country and not only the City of London.

“And I say this to business too: if a Labour government is elected on 12th December you’re going to see more investment than you ever dreamt of. 

“You’re going to have the best educated workforce you’ve ever hoped for. You’re going to get the world-leading infrastructure, including full-fibre broadband you’ve long demanded.

“You’re going to enjoy the fast, reliable transport links you’ve always wanted. You’re going to have the certainty of a customs union and access to the single market, as you’ve long advocated.

“You and your business have so much to gain from a Labour government. Small businesses will see late payments tackled, whether those late payers are larger companies or government; business rates reformed, because we know the damage they’re currently doing to our high streets and communities; and access to finance improved with a Businesses Development Agency as part of the new Post Bank.

“And yes, let’s be frank, Labour will ask those at the top to pay their fair share in tax. We will put an end to the tax tricks that allow the wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations to avoid paying their way.And we will bring some key services into public ownership. I make no apology for that.

“It’s not an attack on the foundations of a modern economy; it’s the very opposite. It’s the norm in many European countries. It’s taking the essential steps to build a genuinely mixed economy for the 21st century.”

On the forthcoming Labour manifesto, he said the CBI had already “set out three great challenges for the next government” whch were ensuring every young person has the skills they need, reducing the blight of inequality and tackling the climate and environmental emergency.

“On the importance of all three, we’re in agreement,” he said.

In a further attempt to show a softening towards business, he said: “Despite people’s differences, there are things we can all agree on. 

“None of us wants to live in a society where we have to step over rough sleepers on our way to work. None of us wants to live in a society where foodbank collection points are needed in every supermarket. None of us wants to live in a society where one in three children grows up in poverty.

Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Work with us’

“I just want to live in a decent society. And I know you do, too. It doesn’t have to be an either/or choice because the opportunities created for businesses under a Labour government will be immense.

“No more good companies going to the wall because of a dearth of investment. No more towns and entire regions abandoned because government ministers are only concerned with the financial sector. No more talented workers feeling they’ve been thrown on the scrap heap with no opportunity to learn new skills.

“So, work with us  to make that happen. Work with us to change the way the economy works so that it works for everyone.” 

CBI reaction

On Mr Johnson’s cut in corporation tax cut postponement, CBI director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said: “Postponing further cuts to corporation tax to invest in public services could work for the country if it is backed by further efforts to the costs of doing business and promote growth.”

On Mr Corbyn’s ‘business friendly’ statement, she said: “It’s time to see Labour open the door to real and lasting partnership with business, not stick with outdated ideologies that would close it in their face. 

“The challenge is not what Labour want to achieve, it’s how. …Some of Labour’s proposals do open the door to partnership.

“But false instincts for mass nationalisations and forcing inclusive ownership schemes onto thriving businesses does little more than frighten off investors from backing the UK, with pensioners and savers having to foot the bill.

“A high-growth, fair mixed economy is within our grasp, but only if business is welcomed and supported as a provider of opportunity, not falsely portrayed as the root cause of inequality.”

Johnson to cut business rates

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