Both as Boss of the CBI and then as UK Trade Minister I spent a lot of time overseas, persuading big (and not so big) foreign businesses and governments to invest in our Country, to make money and pay tax in our Country, to create jobs in our Country.
Politicians and others bang on about “international competitiveness” but there is a clue in the words; whether we like it or not the UK has to fight every day in a global economy, in Asia’s Century, for investment, for new business to come, for existing business to stay, for orders for our goods, for taxable profit and for our jobs.
We are not the most productive Developed Country; France and sometimes the USA holds that title (although our automotive sector is a Global Champion in the productivity stakes). But we do have two huge assets on our side when we go out there hunting: we have relatively light-touch employment regulation compared with our EU rivals and we have a very favourable business tax set-up.
If we were to lose either or both of those (and have to deal with the challenges of Brexit) then why would any inward investor looking for a Developed World location to pitch its tent and create thousands of jobs and pay millions in tax choose the UK? It can get high business taxes and suffocating employment red tape anywhere, and elsewhere it can get higher productivity and closeness to markets as well.
So when Mr Corbyn says he’ll rewrite the book on job regulations, when he promises an immediate hike in business tax by 42% to make our Country the highest taxed it has ever been in peacetime, just see it another way……..kiss goodbye to hundreds of thousands of good (not low-paid) jobs and billions in tax. Asking the “rich” (for some reason, Jezza and his mates think a Comprehensive School Headteacher is rich!) or Business to pay more in tax might sound ok, but everyone in a job will end up paying more tax because there won’t be the big tax cheques being paid by Business; they will have long gone….and those students have got to have their promised free Uni education paid by someone!
Believe me, I’ve been there, seen it, done it. I’ve got the T-shirt on attracting employment and tax cheques to this Country of ours. Tax hikes plus the anti-business mood music of Jezza and his cronies plus more job market red tape is a recipe for unemployment and a bust Country. Surely all your efforts over the years to keep investors here deserve better than that; surely our kids and their kids deserve better than that.