PM delivers mixed messages over public confidence at CBI conference

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry conference yesterday (21 November), the Prime Minister delivered mixed messages on how business and government must build public confidence - and did not explain in any detail what Brexit will actually mean.

May addresses business leaders yesterday (Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)
May addresses business leaders yesterday (Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

Initially, Theresa May challenged Government to step up to a new, active role that backs British business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of success.

She then called on businesses to spread the benefits of prosperity around the country, and for all firms to play by the same rules - particularly in the areas of tax, corporate behaviour and investing in Britain for the long term.

She told delegates that "change was in the air", but stopped short of explaining exactly what Brexit will mean for the UK and how it will be delivered - an omission that didn't go unnoticed, with several people suggesting the speech lacked real substance.

To make matters worse, May also backtracked on a pledge made earlier this year that would have required businesses to put employee representatives on their boards.

"While it is important that the voices of workers and consumers should be represented, I can categorically tell you that this is not about mandating works councils, or the direct appointment of workers or trade union representatives on boards," she said.

It is a move that seems to jar with May's earlier hope of building public trust in businesses and in Government. 

In response, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Theresa May made a clear promise to have workers represented on company boards. The proposals in her speech do not deliver on this.

"This is not the way to show that you want to govern for ordinary working people."

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