Message to CBI

Johnson throws down business rates cut gauntlet

Boris Johnson will cut business costs

Boris Johnson will turn up the pressure on the SNP government today by promising to cut business rates as part of a “Brexit bonus”.

The Prime Minister will tell business leaders that a Conservative government would launch a fundamental review at its first Budget to reduce the burden of business rates and throw a lifeline to struggling high streets.

However, a cut in business rates would not apply to businesses in Scotland as it is a devolved power and would put pressure on the Scottish Government to follow suit, with implications for its own budget.

Mr Johnson said a Conservative government would also increase the employment allowance from £3,000 to £4,000, providing a tax cut of up to £1,000 for more than half a million businesses.

The R&D tax credit rate will increase from 12% to 13%, which will particularly benefit the manufacturing, professional, scientific and technical services.

In a speech to the CBI annual conference, Mr Johnson is expected to say: “Let’s not beat around the bush: big business didn’t want Brexit.

“You made that clear in 2016 and this body said it louder than any other. But what is also clear is that what you want now – and have wanted for some time – is certainty.”

He will say that getting Brexit resolved will allow business to plan and invest.

He is expected to add: “Britain stuck in gridlock and our economy stuck in first gear. Extension to extension. Marching business up to the top of the hill, only to march them down again.

“And this is Corbyn’s plan at this election – the chaos and division of two more referendums, continued paralysis, continued uncertainty.”

However, CBI director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn has been critical of both Conservative and Labour policies.

She said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s nationalisation plans will “freeze investment”, while criticising the Tories’ immigration control plans as potentially making it difficult for business to attract labour across all skills levels.

“When we hear talk about brightest and best, I think that is a worry,” she said.

“If you do want to build 200,000 houses a year, you don’t just need the architects and the designers, you need the carpenters, you need the electricians, you need the labourers.

“We need people to come and help us renew our economy. It’s not just brightest and best, it’s people at all skill levels across our economy that we need.”

She added: “Whoever is in power after the election, the top priority must be to work with business to provide bolder, better and fairer answers to the challenges facing our country.”

Mr Corbyn, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, and the Royal Bank of Scotland’s new CEO Alison Rose are among those addressing the CBI annual conference in London.

Mr Johnson said every Conservative candidate had signed a pledge to vote for his Brexit deal, allowing voters to be ‘100 per cent sure’ that the Tories would take the UK out of the EU by January 31.

All 635 Tory hopefuls have been asked to promise to vote for Mr Johnson’s deal if elected, The Sunday Telegraph reported

The latest polls show the Tories retaining a commanding lead. A YouGov survey for The Sunday Times put the Tories on 45%, Labour on 28%, the Liberal Democrats on 15% and the Brexit Party on just 4%, suggesting the smaller parties are losing support to their bigger rivals.

A Deltapoll survey for the Mail on Sunday gave the Tories 45%, Labour 30%, the Lib Dems 11% and the Brexit Party 6%.

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