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UK business sounds alert on election pledges

Friday, May 19, 2017 - 01:58

UK prime minister Theresa May's election manifesto, launched this week, set out pledges to cut corporation tax but also promised to clamp down on executive pay and give workers a bigger say. But as David Pollard reports, it's her ambition to cut back on net migration which has the UK business community most worried.

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Some voters say it's boring, others unnecessary. But at least the UK election campaign is colourful. A dash of orange for the finance minister, red for the Labour opposition party - traditional blue for the Conservatives. Though some die-hard supporters complained that that's turned a bit pinker. Theresa May's manifesto this week promising to clamp down on executive pay, give workers a bigger say and make it harder for foreign firms to take over British ones. UPSOT (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY, SAYING: "The government I lead will build a Britain in which work pays, with a higher National Living Wage and proper rights and protections at work." But investors warn Britain could become protectionist if it hinders merger bids. While business leaders are anxious at the hit another election pledge could have on employers ... To cut net migration to below 100,000 a year - a level not seen in two decades - while raising extra levies on firms hiring from abroad. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY STRETCH, HEAD OF G10 FX STRATEGY, CIBC, SAYING: "There were necessary demands from the labour force for those migrants to come in and fulfill huge numbers of jobs in the UK industry in UK services. So if we were to see the immigration numbers coming down to that degree and getting to the tens of thousands either ... you're going to be really compromising the inflows and potentially damaging UK businesses." There's also the question of how to pay for another pledge. A cut in corporation tax to 17 per cent, would, say opposition leaders, be like 'writing a blank cheque'. A charge Philip Hammond refutes. SOUNDBITE (English) BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER, PHILIP HAMMOND, SAYING: "Well, the measures that we've set out are very carefully described and we've also described some pretty tough decisions that we've taken in order to pay for them. Now, IFS and other organizations will do their costings but it is a broadly fiscally neutral package." Though he might need to say a small prayer it remains so ... Those costings subject to one still unknown variable: the huge potential bill from Brexit.

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UK business sounds alert on election pledges

Friday, May 19, 2017 - 01:58