More than 120 business leaders sign letter backing Labour

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves. Credit: PA

More than 120 business figures have signed a letter backing Labour in the upcoming election ahead of shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves's first speech of the campaign.

The letter to The Times was signed by figures including television chef Tom Kerridge and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

They said: "The UK has the potential to be one of the strongest economies in the world.

"A lack of political stability and the absence of consistent economic strategy have held it back."

The support comes ahead of Ms Reeve's speech on Tuesday where she will say Labour will be both pro-business and pro-worker.

TV chef Tom Kerridge was among the signatories. Credit: PA

The shadow chancellor is expected to tell business leaders that, having brought business back to Labour, the party can now "bring growth back to Britain".

She will say: "By bringing business back to Britain we can deliver a better future for working people."

Under Sir Keir Starmer, Labour has tried to woo businesses as a way of demonstrating it can be trusted with the economy.

Those efforts have brought success, with business attendance at recent party conferences higher than under Jeremy Corbyn and wealthy businessmen donating more to Labour’s war chest.

Several top figures have also been convinced with Iceland founder Sir Malcolm Walker, who in 2015 publicly backed the Conservatives under then-prime minister Lord David Cameron, signing The Times letter.

Other names attached to the letter include former Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye and JD Sports chairman Andrew Higginson.

In her speech on Tuesday, former Bank of England analyst Ms Reeves is expected to stress the need for a partnership with business, government and workers.

She will say Labour offers "a government that is pro-worker and pro-business, in the knowledge that each depends upon the success of the other."

Her remarks come after Labour faced a backlash over an apparent rebranding of its "New Deal for Workers", with Britain’s largest trade union Unite warning that the party must "stick to its guns" on workers’ rights.

Labour insisted it had not watered down its commitments, adding the proposals had followed agreement with the unions.

The Conservatives have argued that Labour’s proposals would cost jobs and place unnecessary burdens on businesses, but the opposition have claimed good businesses will welcome the plans.

Treasury Chief Secretary Laura Trott said Labour would "tie businesses in red tape."

"The bosses of Asda, Marks and Spencer, Currys and the Confederation of British Industry have all warned that Labour’s French-style union laws risk damaging the economy, costing jobs," she said.

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