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Press releases

Vince Cable attacks Theresa May over corporate reform climbdown

2 min read

Vince Cable has accused Theresa May of watering down her planned crackdown on corporate excess. 

The Prime Minister will unveil a package of reforms tomorrow, but it will not include the previously floated idea of reserving a seat for workers on the boards of companies.

In an article for the Mail on Sunday yesterday Mrs May said businesses would be able to “choose the best way” to make sure employees’ voices were heard in the boardroom – whether through an advisory panel, a dedicated board member or an employee representative.

Liberal Democrat leader Dr Cable, who was business secretary from 2010 to 2015, said the Prime Minister was failing to live up to her rhetoric.

He said: “Theresa May's climbdown is disappointing, with the government reportedly abandoning plans both to give workers representation on boards and more regular votes for shareholders on boardroom pay.

“The Prime Minister is offering strong rhetoric but weak action. Business-bashing slogans will do nothing to increase the confidence of companies already worried about the effects of Theresa May’s plans to take us out of the single market and customs union. And nor will these slogans do anything to improve the rights of workers or shareholders.

“It is a sign of low growth and low business confidence that Mrs May has felt compelled to U-turn by watering down her proposals.”

During the short-lived Conservative leadership campaign last year, Mrs May had said: “If I’m Prime Minister, we’re going to change that system – and we’re going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but employees as well.”

In her piece yesterday, Mrs May branded fat cat bosses who award themselves huge pay packets the “unacceptable face of capitalism”.

She announced the establishment of a public register to name those firms which have faced a shareholder revolt on their pay packets – and said further action could be taken if behaviour did not change.

“This will put pressure on companies, because potential investors will be able to see quickly and easily which of them want to give their bosses rewards that their existing shareholders think are not deserved,” the Conservative leader wrote.

“It means real transparency – and it will also allow the would-be investors to take their money elsewhere if they consider a pay policy to be unacceptable.

“And this is not the end of the road. We will monitor closely how business reacts to these measures, and the others that we will announce later this week.

“If we do not see sufficient progress, we reserve the right to take further steps.”

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