Arguing that Labour had “plenty of common ground with the CBI”, he said the party was “open to change”:
Labour will be on the side of the innovators, entrepreneurs and investors that our economy and our workforce need. We will use public intervention to unleash the creativity and potential of entrepreneurial Britain.
Labour is open. We’re open to change. Open to new ideas. And open to working with you. In return, we ask you to be open, to listening to the workforce, in the boardroom as well as the shopfloor.
Corbyn also set out concrete policies of banning zero hours contracts and raising the minimum wage to £10 per hour.
The Labour leadership and the CBI have enjoyed warmer relations recently, with the lobby’s Deputy Director General welcoming aspects of Corbyn’s conference speech, almost anticipating Corbyn’s theme of a common agenda yesterday, stating, “Labour can be reassured that they do have a significant joint agenda with businesses of all sizes”. Whether this relationship can survive the fine policymaking detail remains to be seen.
One area where Labour and the CBI might clearly share a joint agenda is that on Brexit, where the CBI has been firmly opposed to a ‘Hard Brexit’ that would see the UK leave the single market. Over 90 Labour MPs including Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer have written a letter setting out their opposition. It reads:
Falling back on World Trade Organisation rules would not be a clean break but the most destructive, harshest of settlements, which would lead to fewer jobs, less business investment and would leave the British people poorer. This is not what they voted for in June.
Theresa May’s own speech yesterday saw a U-turn on her commitment for workers’ representatives to sit on boards. In July, she had promised: “If I’m prime minister, we’re going to change that system – and we’re going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but workers as well…”. Yesterday that commitment was dropped as she conceded companies would not be “forced” to do so.
Also in the same speech May suggested that corporation tax could be cut even further. Corporation tax was at 30% in 2007, and is now at 20%. Shortly after the EU referendum, then-Chancellor George Osborne suggested that it could be lowered to 15% – something May has now indicated she could allow.