Tory nerves from small businesses and Brexiters as backlash begins
Furious business owners have accused Boris Johnson of leading Britain into a “catastrophic cost of life” without a credible plan to deal with the crisis for the economy.
Even former Tory loyalists such as Brexiteer Weatherspoon pub boss Tim Martin joined the attack, saying the prime minister had been the least “commercially savvy” or “guiding philosophy” of any administration for 40 years. Led the government with “moving from one unexpected initiative to another”.
The extraordinary row between a Tory leadership and industry captains, usually seen as natural allies, was first triggered by an article in the Evening Standard on Monday called by Lord Wolfson, chief executive of leave-supporting Next. was written by.
Tory Peer called on the government to allow businesses to hire more foreign workers to ease the labor shortage, which has led to the closure of filling stations, restaurants and warnings of empty shelves at Christmas. The standoff worsened yesterday when Mr Johnson brushed off concerns in his speech at the Tory party convention in Manchester. Instead, he insisted that businesses can no longer use “immigration as an excuse for failure to invest in the people, skills and equipment they need to do their jobs.”
But Paul Drexler, chairman of the business group London First, which represents nearly 200 of the capital’s biggest employers, told The Standard: “This ‘blame game’ is complete nonsense of politicians who failed to listen, There was never a plan and there is still no plan. Scratching head in the sand at the scale of disarray and pain that consumers and small businesses will have to endure, there is a risk of turning a crisis into a cost of living catastrophe.
“The government must flex its points-based immigration system to enable the economy to acquire the skills it needs so that the recovery can continue.” In another sign of differing views at the top of the Tory party, Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands and former John Lewis Boss, backed Lord Wolfson’s call for some short-term flexibility during the long-term adjustments. “I agree with that, it’s common sense,” he told ITV’s Peston Show.
The standoff comes amid a cabinet split over the level of immigration that should be allowed to deal with the short-term problems facing Britain. Enthusiastic free marketers, including Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng, are pushing firms to address the woes by recruiting UK-based workers, a solution that some bosses say will not solve immediate difficulties, partly because of key sectors. The difficulties in finding new employees and the length of time it takes to train them.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak stressed in his speech at the Conservative rally in Manchester that he is a “pragmatist” and that business chiefs are looking to advance solutions that tackle current problems, as well as long-term improvements for the economy. demand.
Unprecedented attacks by private sector leaders came another day of dark clouds of economic storms, as winter is approaching. Analysts have warned that a seven-fold increase in UK wholesale gas prices could push up domestic bills by up to £500 next April, when the cap on tariffs is next calculated by regulator Offgame.
Major industrial users of energy also warned of rising prices or shortages of essential items ranging from toilet paper to bricks if the government did not intervene.
Andrew Large, director general of the Confederation of Paper Industries, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the industry needed a “temporary winter cost control measure to try to put a lid on those costs so much as an industry so important to British society.” be able to continue operating.” Criticism of the prime minister – whose speech was described by the Adam Smith Institute for Free Markets as “empty and economically illiterate” – came from a wide range of industrial sectors.
Richard Walker, managing director of Supermarket Iceland, said “tough rhetoric is not at all helpful to businesses”. Asked about his view of the prime minister’s tone and stance, Mr. Walker told the Today program: “I don’t think it’s particularly helpful. I mean business so many and so many different We are dealing with crises that have become complicated all at once. So, pointing fingers at issues like HGV driver shortage and choosing us as bogeymen – that is multifaceted and methodical – is just not helpful.”
Mr Walker said it was “inevitable” that prices would rise as businesses face multiple “cost pressures”.
Restaurateur Sam Harrison, who runs Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith, criticized it: “Our prime minister’s insidious optimism, which is far from what is happening in the real business world.”
Andrew Mawson, managing director of consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates, said: “Businesses have embraced massive changes in the way we work and our relationships with our largest business partners over the past two years, and are now seeking support from the government. We’re in, not lecturing about how we’ve done things wrong. If Boris is going to deliver a high-skill, high-paying economy, he needs to work with business to deliver it. “
Education Secretary Nadim Zhawi denied that Tories were blaming businesses. Asked on Sky News whether the Tories were “on a war path with business”, he said: “Well, I don’t agree with you.”
A government spokesman said: “The government is taking action to address businesses’ concerns about global issues of rising bulk gas prices and challenges with supply chains. We are working to identify and resolve existing issues. We are working with the industry and we are monitoring the situation closely so that we can minimize any future pinch points.
“The UK has the fastest growth rate in the G7, with wages rising and unemployment falling. Our plan for growth clearly sets out the opportunities we can take to drive economic growth, create jobs and support British industry.” Will seize to support as we level-up and build better from the pandemic.”