Faced with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, the dilemma of British bosses

Business leaders are stuck between, on the one hand, the Conservatives' hard Brexit and, on the other hand, the promises of higher taxes and nationalizations of the Labor Party.

Time to Reading 4 min.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party, at the annual conference of British employers, Monday, November 18, in London.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party, at the annual conference of British employers, Monday, November 18, in London. SIMON DAWSON / REUTERS

Rarely have the relations between the British political parties and the employers been so cold. Monday, November 18, for the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the main employers' organization of the United Kingdom, the three leaders of the main political parties have succeeded in a huge auditorium of a hotel in the east of London, facing a room of business leaders exasperated and distraught.

Boris Johnson, the Conservative Prime Minister, opened the ball with a hesitant speech and jokes falling flat. The reception was cold. Adding to the malaise, he announced that the corporate tax, which was to be reduced to 17% in 2020, would remain finally at its current level of 19%, to finance its public investment plan.

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Immediately thereafter, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labor opposition, followed him. If his presentation was more structured and more assertive, his promises of nationalization and tax increases were badly spent.

A brutal change

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, concluded the political announcements. Winner at the applause, promising to be "the party of business", with a centrist program and anti-Brexit (she promises to revoke the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, without even a new referendum), she However, there is a problem: with her party credited with 16% of voting intentions in the polls – twenty-five and fifteen points behind the Conservatives and Labor, respectively – she has almost no chance of becoming prime minister.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Executive Director, did not hold back, denouncing "extreme ideologies"

From the point of view of the British employers, the choice for the December 12 legislative elections is catastrophic: on the right, the conservatives of Mr. Johnson wish a hard Brexit, as soon as possible; on the other hand, Mr. Corbyn's Labor wants to nationalize, raise taxes and launch a public investment program "A level never seen by this country"according to Mr. Corbyn. After forty years of business-centric politics, from Margaret Thatcher to David Cameron to Tony Blair, the change is brutal.

"It's the first time in my life that I hesitate"

Carolyn Fairbairn, IWC Executive Director, did not hold back, denouncing "Extreme ideologies".


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