Philip Hammond under fire for urging business chiefs not to 'collaborate' with Labour - report
Philip Hammond alarmed business leaders by warning them not to “collaborate” with the Labour party and let Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street, new reports have said.
The Chancellor called on bosses to “take up the challenge” of stopping the party from getting its hands on the levers of power, according to various news sources.
But he was thought to have “misjudged his audience” and has received warnings not to drag business into “political arguments”.
Mr Hammond made the comments at a £400-a-head dinner on the fringes of the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
According to Politico, he said: “Business has to make a decision. Basically, business always engages with the political system with some ambiguity.
“You have to decide to combat this menace or collaborate with it and let it get into power. We will work with you, but we need you to work with us and we need you to take up that challenge.”
But one boss told the Times: “It’s rather concerning. The Chancellor seems to want to drag us into political arguments.
“We want to get on with the job of running our business. It goes further than I would have expected.”
And another said: “He misjudged his audience. Most of the public affairs directors who attended the dinner are not firm Conservatives.
“Moreover at the moment Brexit is forcing people to urgently rethink their investment plans.
“If there is anyone to stand up to at the moment, it is the government which needs to get its act together on Brexit.”
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Mr Hammond’s bizarre comment showed “how desperate the Tories have become that they have to threaten even their business and financial backers”.
The Confederation of British Industry and the British Chambers of Commerce were already critical this week about Mr Hammond’s conference speech.