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CBI urges next Tory leader to focus on investment

Danker and Sunak
Tony Danker of the CBI and leadership leader Rishi Sunak

A business group is urging the next Conservative party leader and Prime Minister to use the tax system to encourage investment that will put Britain back on a growth path.

In an open letter to all the candidates, CBI director-general Tony Danker says: “Sustainable economic growth must be at the heart of your manifestos. Without it, leadership ambitions cannot be met, nor those of the British people and businesses.

“As for tax, our nation’s longstanding poor performance on business investment must be tackled, especially with the Super Deduction [tax relief on investment] ending next April.

“This should be the overriding objective of tax policy now.

“Growth that relies on only government or household consumption is doomed to fail, especially at a time of rising inflation and high debt.”

The CBI again calls for a permanent successor to the Super Deduction – to directly and concretely target investment actions by firms. It also wants reform of the business rates system.

Eight candidates will battle today to succeed Boris Johnson after Sajid Javid, the former health secretary, withdrew when he failed to win enough support.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the frontrunner, opened his campaign with a warning that it was “not credible to promise lots more spending and lower taxes”.

He was backed by Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, who abandoned his own leadership campaign. Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary and Mr Johnson’s former chief of staff, also announced his support for Mr Sunak.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is calling for tax cuts, is supported by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit Opportunities minister, and Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is also expected to endorse Ms Truss.

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss agreed to take part in TV debates with the other candidates.

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt is also widely expected to receive the 30 votes she will need to proceed to the next stage. 

Another vote will be held tomorrow in a timetable that could cut the field down to two on Monday.

Mr Johnson blocked Labour’s demand for a vote of confidence in the government in defiance of parliamentary convention which determines that when the official Opposition requests a confidence vote the government allows time for one at the earliest possible opportunity.

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