Businesses across the UK are being “wooed” by Labour, a leading businessman has said, in comments that will be a blow to Rishi Sunak’s Tories.
Paul Drechsler, former head of the Confederation of British Industry and current chair of the International Chamber of Commerce UK, said the Conservatives are “not just losing” the argument on business, Labour is “winning it”.
There is a “seismic change” in many boardrooms, with many bosses of big retailers and top firms starting to feel optimistic about Labour, he said.
Mr Drechsler, who was appointed as chair of the government’s Skills Funding Agency by former prime minister David Cameron, said he took “no great pleasure” in saying this.
He credited Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves with bringing about the change in their party’s image.
“There is a sense of dramatic change in many boardrooms and corridors of power,” he said.
“I am hearing that CEOs of big high street firms are starting to talk with warmth – and even optimism – towards Labour. This is a seismic change.”
While the Prime Minister has returned “a much-needed sense of safety and stability” to his party, he is nonetheless “struggling to retrieve his party from the errors of his predecessors”, Mr Drechsler argued.
He suggested that many business chiefs who are “small c conservatives who want stability and certainty” no longer see the Conservatives as their natural ally after recent political turmoil.