More than 100 business leaders have given their support to Britain’s opposition Labour Party before a July 4 election, saying the country needs to end the instability and stagnation that has dogged the economy.

Rishi Sunak’s governing Conservatives have typically been the party of big business but Labour’s finance policy chief Rachel Reeves has spent years courting business owners in a bid to show her party can be trusted to run the economy.

The letter, signed by current and former chief executives in retail, advertising, travel and finance, said Labour had shown it had changed and should be given a chance to shape the country’s future.

“We, as leaders and investors in British business, believe that it is time for a change,” the letter said.

“We are in urgent need of a new outlook to break free from the stagnation of the last decade and we hope by taking this public stand we might persuade others of that need too.”

Labour will hope the endorsement shows that it is no longer the party of Starmer’s predecessor, veteran left-wing lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn, who campaigned at the last election in 2019 to renationalise some key assets and hike taxes on the rich.

Leaders who signed the letter include the boss of retailer Iceland, the chairman of JD Sports, the head of the UK arm of ad giant WPP, the former CEO of Aston Martin and the founder of a children’s company that once included Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty as an investor.

Starmer’s Labour have held an around 20-point lead in polls for almost a year. It has accused the government of 14 years of economic mismanagement, failing to give business the stability it craves and leaving people worse off.

Britain’s economic performance since the coronavirus pandemic has been the weakest among the Group of Seven economies with the exception of Germany, weighed down by high levels of debt and stuck in a rut of slow growth.

Reeves will say later on Tuesday the endorsement shows that Labour can bring business investment back to Britain. “Our plans for growth are built on partnership with business,” she will say.

Sunak’s Conservatives say they have had to steer the economy through the twin shocks of COVID-19 and the energy spike that followed Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A recent drop in inflation, they say, shows that the economy is back on track.

After an underwhelming start to the election campaign, Sunak has proposed tax cuts for millions of pensioners – the section of the electorate that is most likely to vote Conservative.

The new proposal will cost 2.4 billion pounds ($3.1 billion)a year by 2029/30 and be funded through government efforts to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion, the party said.

(Reuters)

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