UK businesses set out their stall
The FT’s Dan Thomas has spoken to a host of UK executives, who have made the case for five specific areas to be addressed by whoever wins the election:
1. Brexit: Businesses are keen for an arrangement as near to the status quo as possible, including regulatory alignment for industries that trade with the EU.
2. Education and skills: Businesses want to see greater investment at all levels of education, especially a reform of the apprenticeship levy – a tax on UK employers to fund workplace training – following complaints that the money is not being used properly.
3. Business incentives: Almost half of members polled by the Institute of Directors want to see some form of business incentive to boost investment
4. Business Rates*: One of the major gripes for executives is business rates, a tax on property that has in particular hit retailers and manufacturers, and which they want to see reduced. They argue that business rates are adding to the decline of the high street, given the additional costs for struggling retailers
5. Infrastructure: Finally, executives want to see further investment in infrastructure. The British Chamber of Commerce wants 1.4 per cent of GDP committed to public investment in infrastructure — exceeding the 1.2 per cent guideline recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission.
The Times leads on polling showing the Conservatives opening up a 14 point lead over Labour on the back of Nigel Farage’s Monday announcement that he would withdraw Brexit party candidates from Tory-held seats.
The Mirror and Guardian meanwhile have opted to put Labour’s NHS spending plans on their font pages, after the party pledged a a £26bn funding boost for health.
Farage under increasing pressure to ‘take his chips off the table’
George Parker, the FT’s political editor writes:
Nigel Farage has come under renewed pressure to give Boris Johnson a clear run at Labour in key marginal seats, just a day after he agreed to pull candidates out of more than 300 Tory-held constituencies.
Arron Banks urged the Brexit party leader to “take his chips off the table” and withdraw from many of the Labour-held seats that could determine the election. Mr Banks was the funder of one of the main Leave campaigns during the 2016 EU referendum and is a longtime ally of Mr Farage.
Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader and leading Eurosceptic, warned Mr Farage that he risked Brexit by splitting the vote: “If they want to deliver Brexit they’ve still got to focus on the fact that if they divide the vote, they’ll let Labour in,” he told The Sun.
The comments came as Mr Johnson prepared to call for an “end to the groundhoggery of Brexit”, warning that if he failed to win the election then the country would be plunged into more uncertainty and chaos.
He will claim in a speech in the West Midlands on Wednesday that a minority government led by Jeremy Corbyn and backed by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon would lead to two referendums — one on Brexit and one on Scottish independence.
Welcome to another day of election campaigning.
As Wednesday kicks off, Nigel Farage is facing fresh calls to stand down more Brexit party candidates to give the Conservatives a clear run against Labour in marginal seats.
Follow our rolling coverage here, where we will be bringing you updates on the latest campaign twists and turns, as well as analysis by FT correspondents.