UK

Badenoch to warn business chiefs Labour would impose ‘stifling’ conditions

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch will criticise a rising tide of state regulation, which she will claim would become even stronger under Labour.

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch will address business chiefs
Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch will address business chiefs (Aaron Chown/PA)

Kemi Badenoch will warn business chiefs that a Labour government could result in the “stifling of the free market” with increasing levels of state intervention.

The Business Secretary will tell financial firms that there had been an “ever-rising tide” of “micromanagement” since the 2008 financial crash, a period which has largely been under Conservative rule, claiming that process which would be accelerated under Labour.

Ms Badenoch, viewed as a potential future Tory leader, will use her speech to suggest that the Conservatives “have not had as much of an opportunity as we would like to articulate our values”.

She will tell the CityUK international conference in London the “ever-rising tide of micromanagement has not necessarily made us, or the financial markets, stronger”.

“These changes in one sector are part of a slow and steady shift in Western societies and economies toward a new, controlled and regulated vision,” she will say on Thursday.

“Because we have been living in an era of multiple crises, the competition of ideas which fuels western creativity and growth have been more muted.

“People have forgotten that Conservatives are always motivated by an underpinning philosophy because we have not had as much of an opportunity as we would like to articulate our values.

“Should Labour win the next election, this tide of ever more intervention will accelerate and become even stronger.”

Under Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, Labour has put great efforts into winning round business leaders.

But Ms Badenoch will claim the “idea that we all need to be micromanaged” in social or economic terms “comes very easily to the Labour Party”.

She will add: “Sometimes the reasons put forward sound good. Sometimes those who put new rules forward even do so with good intentions.

“But the result is ever greater regulatory capture, stifling of the free market, and the weakening of the wealth generation we need.”

Kemi Badenoch will use her speech to take aim at Labour’s plans
Kemi Badenoch will use her speech to take aim at Labour’s plans (Yui Mok/PA)

Taking aim at Ms Reeves’ philosophy of “securonomics” –  with a focus on an active state and a stronger industrial strategy – she will claim it would put extra burdens on bosses.

She will say: “Rachel Reeves’s new concept of securonomics means that you, as employers, will have to sign up to: No probationary periods for staff – making you liable to unfair dismissal claims from day one; Banning you from contacting colleagues about work outside of working hours… and more reporting burdens, like mandatory ethnicity pay reporting.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Kemi Badenoch spends so much time trying to replace Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister, we forgot she had a day job.

“The greatest threat to both businesses and workers is this Conservative government, who have created a high tax, low growth economy and are now planning yet another Liz Truss style kamikaze with their £46 billion in unfunded tax cuts.

“Labour are a proudly pro-business, pro-worker party and our plans will help businesses and workers alike. Business leaders aren’t asking for a watering down of workers rights. They want the policy certainty they need to make long-term investments, stable corporation tax and action on business rates and late payments. That is what they will get under Labour.”