politics

Tory manifesto receives muted welcome from business leaders


Business leaders gave the Tory manifesto a muted welcome, saying that its limited focus on skills, infrastructure and research were positive steps but cautioning that the wrong Brexit deal could hinder growth for a generation.

The Conservatives’ modest spending plans, amounting to £2.9bn a year against £82.9bn for Labour and £62.9bn for the Lib Dems, were viewed as “a pro-enterprise vision” by business representatives. But in other sectors such as the NHS proposals drew a more muted response.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said that while the manifesto “struck some of the right notes” businesses will be looking to see “more substantial measures to boost growth, enterprise and investment”.

Josh Hardie, deputy director-general at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), warned that the outlook for the economy was clouded by concerns over the UK crashing out of the EU following Brexit negotiations next year.

“Businesses will be heartened by a pro-enterprise vision, while looking for even more ambition on areas such as access to skills, infrastructure and reaching net zero,” said Hardie, who represents 190,000 mainly large and medium-sized businesses.

“But the inconvenient truth remains: sustainable economic growth will be risked if there is a needless rush for a bare bones Brexit deal that would slow down our domestic progress for a generation.”

Like most business groups, the CBI has warned that a failure to complete a trade deal by next December will lead to Britain leaving without a deal unless ministers agree to an extension, which so far Johnson has ruled out.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) said it was also concerned that trade negotiations with the EU would delay efforts to boost investment.

Edwin Morgan, the IoD’s director of policy, said: “On domestic policy, there is much for business to like, with a focus on skills, infrastructure and research. There is a desperate need to help businesses invest, so confidence-boosting measures around training, science funding and local, but very important, issues like potholes will be welcomed.

“When it comes to Brexit, business will only feel it is ‘done’ when they know the terms of new relationship with the EU, not before. There is still a long way to go, and the next government must put the needs of the economy first when negotiating on matters relating to trade and market access.”

The lobby group for the pharmaceutical industry, the ABPI, said pledges to increase public research spending to meet a target of 2.4% of GDP alongside plans to set up an “innovative medicines fund”, and make the UK the leading global hub for life sciences would boost the industry.

There was also praise from the road lobby for increased funding for repairs. Edmund King, president at the Automobile Association (AA), who has previously called the UK’s potholed roads a national disgrace, said: “Many local authorities are still struggling to keep up with damaged roads ravaged by the ‘beast from the east’ a couple of years ago. All road users will welcome a £2bn four-year pledge to fill the potholes.”

There have been trials of voter ID in local elections and the Conservatives have stated that they want to bring in some form of UK-wide ID requirement for voting in the future, but for this election there is no change to the current system.

You do not need to show ID to vote in England, Scotland and Wales in a general election. You don’t even need to bring your polling card. You just need to tell polling staff your name and address. They will then cross your name off the list and give you a ballot paper.

If you’re voting in Northern Ireland, you must show photo ID.

Only the following forms of ID will be accepted at polling stations in Northern Ireland:

  • A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photographic part) (provisional accepted).
  • A UK or Irish passport.
  • An Electoral Identity Card.
  • A Translink Senior SmartPass.
  • A Translink 60+ SmartPass.
  • A Translink War Disabled SmartPass.
  • A Translink Blind Person’s SmartPass.

Your photographic identification does not need to be current, so even if it is out of date you can still use it to vote. The presiding officer will have the final say over whether or not the photograph matches that of the person intending to vote. Find out more about voting in Northern Ireland.

Martin Belam

Nurses’ representatives were less complimentary, saying it was unclear where new recruits to the profession would come from. The government has also signalled that 19,000 of the 50,000 will be accounted for by the retention of nurses who it projected would otherwise have quit their posts.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said there are currently 43,000 unfilled nursing posts, leaving a gaping hole in provision of nursing care.

“Today’s commitment to recruit and retain 50,000 more nursing staff above and beyond the existing students completing degrees is the right level of aspiration. However, we need more detail of how and from where these future professionals are going to be found,” she said.

“Forcing would-be nurses to pay tuition fees has demonstrably failed in the last two years. With this announcement, Boris Johnson has not brought back the bursary – he is pledging to return one element of the package and keep the costly tuition fees in place.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health trusts across the sector, said that with 100,000 vacancies across the NHS in England, the government will need to go further, as the Labour party and Liberal Democrats have done.

“An additional 6,000 GPs and 6,000 primary care professionals would be a real boon, but they must come from somewhere, either through years of training or from overseas,” he said.

And Dr Jennifer Dixon, chief executive at the Health Foundation, called the party’s limited action on social care a “shameful omission for a party that’s been in power for nearly a decade”.



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