It’s safe to say that Jeremy Corbyn faced a tough crowd when addressing the CBI Annual Conference on Monday 21 November. And this fact wasn’t lost on the Labour leader when he took to the stage. “If you’d told me two years ago I’d be addressing the captains of industry at the CBI Annual Conference, I’m not sure who’d be more shocked … you or me!” he joked.
“But we do have a lot in common,” Corbyn continued. “As leaders, we’ve all had to deal with enormous change and instability. And some of you have faced the odd challenge along the way.”
The leader of the opposition went on to reveal a package of proposals that he said would help British businesses thrive in a post-Brexit world, while putting the country back on the road to prosperity. Chief among his proposals was a national investment bank, which Corbyn said “will deliver long-term strategic investment in our under-powered infrastructure and provide the patient finance that our businesses need across the country.”
Recognizing the important role of Britain’s pioneering tech firms, Corbyn said the next Labour government “will support innovation by aiming to meet the OECD target of 3% of GDP a year on all research and development.” He added: “Labour will be on the side of the innovators, entrepreneurs and investors that our economy and our workforce need.”
If you’d told me two years ago I’d be addressing the captains of industry at the CBI Annual Conference, I’m not sure who’d be more shocked … you or me!
However, while the government has pledged further cuts to corporation tax, Corbyn said Labour’s plans will see corporation tax increase, albeit maintained as one of the lowest rates in the world. “The prime minister’s suggestion that Britain should chase after Donald Trump, in a race to the bottom in corporation tax, to 15% or below, is reckless short-term grandstanding,” he said. “That would do nothing to bolster the long-term investment we all need or to raise productivity or boost innovation, and would undermine the rebuilding of our economy on which our prosperity depends.”
Corbyn also took aim at Theresa May’s corporate governance proposals, specifically the issue of worker representation on boards, which the prime minister appeared to backtrack on earlier in the day. “We need to see genuine employee representation at board level,” he said.