Britain’s Labour party has held back the launch of a new business council after senior Conservatives intervened with financial services companies that were due to take part.
(Bloomberg) — Britain’s Labour party has held back the launch of a new business council after senior Conservatives intervened with financial services companies that were due to take part.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt spoke to at least one business about Labour’s latest plan to present itself as the best party for enterprise and economic growth, a person familiar with the situation said. Another person said Franck Petitgas — the former Morgan Stanley banker who became a Downing Street adviser earlier this year — made a series of calls to companies that Labour said were joining the council ahead of its annual conference in Liverpool next week.
Asset management giant Blackstone Inc. and insurer Aviva Plc had been due to participate in the council, according to people familiar with the matter. The Times newspaper reported earlier that Lloyds Banking Group Plc and pensions firm Fidelity were also lined up.
Spokespeople for Aviva, Blackstone, Lloyds and Fidelity declined to comment.
One person familiar with the talks said businesses thought they were signing up to a round-table about policy and did not realize Labour would be announcing the council to make a political point.
The Labour party has launched a charm offensive to win over City of London firms and UK business chiefs more broadly, as it aims to wrest control from Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives in a general election expected next year. Leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves have been trying to regain credibility since replacing their left-wing predecessors, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, who were heavily defeated after proposing widespread nationalizations, spending sprees and an expansion of workers’ rights at the last election in 2019.
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A person familiar with Labour’s plans said Hunt had caught wind of the business council and tried to stop it. They said talks were ongoing with businesses about joining a new council in an independent advisory role, and that while the project will not be unveiled at conference it was still going ahead.
–With assistance from Loukia Gyftopoulou and Laura Benitez.
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