Labour leader Keir Starmer has vowed Labour will back business as he unveiled a new Brexit strategy.
Speaking at the start of the CBI conference, held partly in Birmingham, the Opposition leader said his party is “back in business” and wanted a new “contract” with industry and would run “a tight ship” if elected to govern.
It stood in stark contrast to Boris Johnson’s “rambling” speech to the CBI’s South Shields leg of the conference, in which Mr Johnson lost his place in his notes and began talking about Peppa Pig World – an amusement park some six hours’ drive from the North East.
Mr Starmer focused on winning over firms in the wake of the Jeremy Corbyn years.
He said: “Brexit has happened and we’re not going to rejoin. But it is obvious that a poorly thought through Brexit is holding Britain back.”
The Labour leader said he would back new deals with the EU to solve rows over the Northern Ireland trade pact.
He also said the party would cut red tape, seek regulatory equivalence for financial services and back a better long-term deal for UK hauliers to ease the supply chain problems.
Mr Starmer also took a swipe at the Prime Minister.
“There is one further element, leadership,” he said. “Trust matters in international negotiations. But with this Prime Minister this ingredient is missing.
“Instead, what we get is a series of pantomime disputes which is no good for British business or for the British public, and no help at all as we tackle the task of remaking Britain.”
He said “Labour is back in business”, the “party of work” and therefore “the party of business”.
He vowed Labour would run “a stable government”, telling business leaders: “A company which employed a sitting Conservative MP received £133 million for test kits which had to be recalled because they didn’t work.
“This isn’t magic money the Tories are wasting. It’s your money.
“There is no industrial strategy, no business plan. The Budget was an opportunity to remake Britain and it was an opportunity missed.”
He went on: “Just as every one of you scrutinises the cost side of your business, constantly asking yourself if investments are paying off, we will do the same on behalf of the tax-paying public.”