Back to business on the election campaign trail

Angus Walker

Former ITV News Correspondent

This week the election campaign moves up a gear. We're into manifesto and TV debate mode.

Much more scrutiny of policy ahead. With polling day now only 24 days away the pace will intensify.

The focus on Monday will be business.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to address the Confederation of British Industry's annual conference in London.

He's only too aware he may not be in entirely friendly territory. Many business leaders blame Brexit for a loss of earnings.

In April this year a report by the business ratings agency Standard and Poor's estimated the UK economy had lost 66 billion pounds since 2016, largely caused by uncertainty and subsequent reduced investment.

Boris Johnson addresses the CBI conference as Mayor of London. Credit: PA

So Mr Johnson is expected to take his critics on, and is expected to tell the CBI:

“Let’s not beat around the bush, big business didn’t want Brexit. You made that clear in 2016 and this body said it louder than any other."

“But what is also clear is that what you want now - and have wanted for some time - is certainty."

“So that you can plan and invest, so you can grow and expand, so that you can create jobs and drive prosperity."

“Whilst you didn’t want it, the people did vote for it. And so it was for politicians to deliver it."

“It has been politicians in a broken parliament - not you - that have failed in this and in some cases actively tried to sabotage the democratic will of the people."

The Tories have plans to unveil a series of tax and rates cuts for businesses to accompany the Prime Minister's speech.

However, "Sabotage" may be a word that gets a political reaction.

It's from the same lexicon as the "surrender act".

The PM will say a broken parliament has failed to deliver Brexit. Credit: PA

The Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is also due to speak at the CBI conference.

His plans to nationalise Openreach, the broadband division of BT, and deliver 'free' broadband to households is also likely to face some scrutiny from the leaders of large firms gathered at the conference.

They will have something to say about the idea of government taking over commercial enterprises.

The CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn has already said this about Labour's broadband plans: "That will freeze investment. I've talked to businesses who are already sitting there thinking maybe we are next. So we do say again to Labour, work with business and work out different answers to these problems. But this programme that is appearing to value none of the contribution that business makes, will simply shut investment out of our country."

Labour's manifesto is expected to be launched on Thursday.

Complete with promises to double investment spending, an extra 55 billion pounds a year, to fund infrastructure and public projects.

Labour's "transformative" blueprint for Britain has been described by party chairman Ian Lavery as "more radical" than Labour's 2017 offering to voters.

Labour will launch their manifesto on Thursday. Credit: PA

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson is also speaking at the CBI.

The Liberal Democrats have made a pitch to be seen as "the party of business" with plans to generate yearly treasury surpluses equal to one percent of national income.

“In other words, fiscal responsibility. Unlike the others, with their fiscal incontinence,” Sir Ed Davey, the party's Treasury spokesman said last week.

The Lib Dems, the only main party proposing to stop Brexit by revoking Article 5, overturning the 52% vote to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, say that its policy would allow the UK economy to grow faster than it would otherwise.

The party argues that "remaining in the EU would mean UK GDP was 1.9% larger by 2024/25, and that this would generate a “remain bonus” of £50 billion for the government to spend."

The Lib Dems see themselves as 'the party of business'. Credit: PA

The speeches from three of the UK's main party leaders at the CBI are likely to dominate coverage of the campaign tomorrow.

Don't forget to tune into ITV on Tuesday for the first televised debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson.

Both will be defending their policies and attacking their opponents from 8pm on ITV, overseen by the undisputed Queen of TV debates, ITV News presenter Julie Etchingham.