Business leaders and think tanks called Boris Johnson’s party conference speech “economically illiterate”.
The Prime Minister speech at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday came as many companies grapple with supply chain issues and a shortage of workers.
A shortage of truck drivers has resulted in reduced fuel supplies in parts of the country, as well as empty shelf warnings and rising costs before Christmas.
But Mr Johnson has defended his strategy of restricting the supply of cheap foreign labor in post-Brexit Britain, saying the economic tensions seen in recent weeks were part of the transition people are making. have voted.
He said: “That’s the direction the country is going now – towards a high-wage, high-skilled, high-productivity economy and, yes, therefore low-tax. That’s what the people of this country are doing. need and deserve.
“Yes, it will take time, and sometimes it will be difficult, but this is the change people voted for in (the Brexit referendum of) 2016.”
Business leaders were not impressed, with many saying restricting migration could lead to higher inflation, leaving consumers to bear the costs.
Matthew Lesh, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute’s Free Market Think Tank, said: âBoris’ rhetoric was bombastic but meaningless and economically illiterate.
“This was a program to shift to a centrally planned, high tax, low productivity economy. Boris cripples the labor market, raises taxes on a fragile recovery and avoids meaningful planning reform.”
He added: “Shortages and rising prices simply cannot be swept aside by rhetoric about migrants. It is wrong and wrong to claim that migrants impoverish us. There is no evidence that immigration lowers the level of migration. life of native workers.
“This whistle shows that this government does not care about pursuing evidence-based policies. We can both control migration and enable migrants to fill skills gaps.”
Richard Walker, managing director of the Iceland supermarket chain, said the government is treating businesses like a “never-ending sponge” but can only bear a certain number of cost increases at a time.
He told The Times: âThe business is singled out like a bogeyman, but it’s much bigger than that. We want to pay our employees as much as possible, but business is not a never-ending sponge that can keep absorbing costs all at once.
âNext year we’re going to have a wave of higher costs due to higher energy bills, additional heavy-duty drivers, packaging costs. We can only bear many cost increases to at the same time, they must therefore reduce them. “
Federation of Small Business National President Mike Cherry said, âIt is a relief to hear the Prime Minister speak positively about business.
“But it is equally remarkable to hear the benefits of a low-tax economy being touted as the government has just approved an increase in national insurance contributions for employers, self-employed traders and employees, which according to us, will cost at least 50,000 jobs.
“If this government wants a high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy, it must stop hitting our 5.9 million small businesses with high tax bills before they make a turnover. of a pound, not to mention the profits. “
Shevaun Haviland, Managing Director of UK Chambers of Commerce, said: âBusinesses face a cumulative crisis in trading conditions as supply chains collapse, prices soar, taxes rise and food shortages. workforce are reaching new heights.
“The economic recovery is on shaky ground and if it stalls, private sector investment and tax revenue that the Prime Minister wants to fuel his vision will be scarce.”
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