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Liberal Democrats announce prominent business supporters

Ben Gartside
Britain's Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson speaks at the annual CBI Conference in London on 18 November. Photo: Simon Dawson/Reuters

Former president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Sir Michael Rake and 60 other business leaders have endorsed the Liberal Democrats ahead of the UK’s general election on Thursday.

Commenting on the endorsement, Rake said: “The Liberal Democrats have ploughed a lonely furrow in being the only party truly reflecting the interests and importance of the business community to a successful inclusive economy. They have also been clear and honest about the damage, economically and reputationally, being caused to our country by Brexit. 

"Jo Swinson’s party has engaged with businesses and put forward a credible manifesto which addresses the major issues identified by business groups such as reforming business rates, investing in infrastructure and ensuring firms have access to skilled labour."

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Other prominent business leaders pledged support for the party, including Alex Chesterman, the founder of Lovefilm and Zoopla, Superdry CEO Julian Dunkerton, and Charlie Bigham, founder of the eponymous ready-meal brand.

Bigham said: “I know a thing or two about oven-ready, and it’s clear that Johnson’s Brexit plan is no such thing.

“This Conservative party now care more about ideology than prosperity. They have lost the credibility to call themselves the party of business because we know any form of Brexit will make it more difficult to do business in the UK.

“I’m joining dozens of entrepreneurs and businessmen, as well as The Economist, in supporting the Liberal Democrats whose plans for business and the economy are the best on offer.”

The show of support follows an endorsement from The Economist magazine, which cited the Liberal Democrats’ opposition to a no-deal Brexit and support of a deep trade deal if the withdrawal agreement does pass the House of Commons.

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Liberal Democrat shadow business secretary Sam Gymiah said: “At election time they say ‘it’s the economy, stupid’, but this time the two main parties have opted for stupid economics instead, whether that’s pursuing Brexit that we know will damage the economy or a reckless spending plan we can’t afford.

“Business leaders and entrepreneurs recognise that Liberal Democrats are now the natural party for business. We’re offering a credible plan that will create an environment to help business build prosperity and create jobs, underpinned by a stronger economy within the EU.”