UK: Corporate Capitalism for all - Theresa May pledges

Theresa May pledges to make Britain fairer and says Brexit was a cry for a new start.

Theresa May has denounced a rootless “international elite” and vowed to make capitalism operate more fairly for workers, as she promised profound change to reunite Britain after June’s vote to leave the EU.

In a speech to the Conservative party conference, Mrs May said the Brexit vote was a cry for a new start, setting out an agenda of state intervention, more workers’ rights, an assault on failing markets and a crackdown on corporate greed.

The prime minister’s speech drew comparisons with the supposedly anti-business rhetoric of former Labour leader Ed Miliband, but one Tory official said: “Perhaps only a Tory government can save capitalism from itself.”

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Mrs May told activists that the Conservatives would respond to the Brexit vote by putting “the power of government squarely at the service of ordinary working-class people”, adding: “It’s time to remember the good that government can do.”

The strength of her comments demonstrated Mrs May’s desire to signal a break with the previous leadership which was seen as too in thrall to the demands of finance and big business and less concerned with social cohesion.

Some in the City of London and in corporate boardrooms fear Mrs May does not understand the economic dangers posed by Brexit and the prime minister’s rhetoric suggests her relationship with business is not about to improve.

A day after her home secretary told the same audience British businesses were hiring too many foreigners, Mrs May said: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

She criticised uncaring bosses, tax-avoiding international companies, internet companies that refused to co-operate in the fight against terrorism and directors who took out “massive dividends while knowing the company pension is about to go bust”. She said: “I’m putting you on warning: this can’t go on any more.”

The remarks sparked objections from business leaders. “We need government to act in partnership with business communities, not dictate to them,” said Adam Marshall, acting director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce.

James Sproule, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said business people were not “pantomime villains”.

Source: Financial Times.