Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has been meeting business executives.
Labour is accelerating meetings with leaders of Britain’s biggest companies as it steps up its efforts to woo the City after the Conservatives’ mini-budget led to economic chaos.
The diaries of Keir Starmer, his shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, and the shadow business secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, have been full of coffee meetings and dinners, as executives clamoured to make contact with the Labour frontbench.
It is being described as the “prawn cocktail offensive 2.0”, a reference to efforts by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to win the backing of Britain’s financial sector during their time in opposition before the 1997 victory.
In early December, the party will.
hold its next “Labour Business” event, featuring panel discussions and a lunch.
A reception of executives and entrepreneurs at Labour’s conference in Liverpool was packed and tickets sold out in record time; Starmer and Reeves addressed more than 600 business leaders and international guests.
Labour said its conference in Liverpool in September had seen the largest attendance of companies since 2010, including a firm owned by a major Tory donor.
Since the conference, Labour has increased its lead in the polls, following the market turmoil, fall in the value of the pound and surge in government borrowing costs unleashed by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s illfated mini-budget.
Relations between the Conservatives and business leaders struggled under Boris Johnson’s premiership, following his reported “fuck business” comment in response to employer concerns about a hard Brexit.
Tory party infighting and Truss’s resignation only worsened matters, in a marked change from the party’s previous self-styled stance as the party of business.
Labour sources said contact from business leaders has significantly increased in recent weeks, amid a transformation in the party’s relations with the City, which soured under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Labour expects to have met executives of the UK’s 250 largest listed firms by early next year.
HSBC and NatWest, the professional services firm EY and multinationals such as Siemens and Nissan have held meetings with Labour.
Big retailers including Tesco and Sainsbury’s have also had contact with Labour’s top team.
Reynolds described business as an “essential partner in building the fairer, greener Britain we all want to see”.
Labour is also increasing its engagement with smaller companies through the nationwide network of regional chambers of commerce.