Labour pitches into Tory territory with business support letter

24 May 2024, 10:15 | Updated: 24 May 2024, 11:27

Labour is trying to persuade prominent business leaders to sign a public letter endorsing the party in a move underlining its encroachment onto general election territory traditionally occupied by the Conservatives.

Sky News has seen a draft letter being circulated by Labour officials in the last 24 hours which urges them to back it ahead of the July 4 poll.

The draft, which has been sent to a large number of corporate chiefs and investors, underlines the party's move under Sir Keir Starmer to reposition itself as the natural party of business.

At previous elections, the Tories have often won public support from chairs and chief executives of FTSE-100 companies for the party's economic policy portfolio.

However, the government's track record has led some traditional Conservative business supporters to rethink a repetition of their public support.

In the draft letter, which Labour is seeking signature commitments from before the weekend, business leaders are asked to endorse a message saying: "We, as leaders and investors in British business, believe that it is time for a change.

"For too long now, our economy has been beset by instability, stagnation, and a lack of long-term focus.

"The United Kingdom has the potential to be one of the strongest economies in the world.

"A lack of political stability and the absence of consistent economic strategy has held it back.

"The country has been denied the skills and infrastructure it needs to flourish.

"We are looking for a government that will partner fiscal discipline with a long-term growth strategy.

"Working in partnership with the private sector to drive innovation and investment will to build digital and physical capital and fix our skills system.

This is the only way to put us on track for sustained productivity growth.

Labour has shown it has changed and wants to work with business to achieve the UK's full economic potential. We should now give it the chance to change the country.

"We are in urgent need of a new outlook to break free from the stagnation of the last decade and we hope by taking this public stand we might persuade others of that need too."

The Tories have also contacted business leaders since Rishi Sunak called the election on Wednesday, asking them to take part in broadcast media opportunities, provide quotes in support of manifesto pledges and host events and visits for cabinet ministers.

It was unclear on Friday whether the Tories would seek business signatures for a public letter as it has done ahead of previous elections.