You are here: Home » Reuters » News
Business Standard

UK PM May's pitch to voters - market intervention and stiffer rules for business

Reuters  |  HALIFAX, England 

By Elizabeth Piper and William James

HALIFAX, (Reuters) - Prime Minister pitched selective market intervention and stiffer rules for businesses as the tonic needs to navigate Brexit when she unveiled her main pre-pledges on Thursday.

May goes into next month's snap national she called with opinion poll ratings that indicate she may win a landslide comparable with her Conservative predecessor Margaret Thatcher's 1983 majority of 144 seats in the 650-seat parliament.

But the prime minister, an initial opponent of Brexit who won the top job in the political turmoil that followed last summer's referendum vote, has so far given few details on what she aims to do if she wins the June 8 vote.

Her collection of pledges gives a glimpse of what May plans for Britain's $2.6 trillion economy as she plots tortuous two-year Brexit divorce negotiations with the 27 other members of the European Union.

"We do not believe in untrammelled free markets," May said in the manifesto, entitled "Forward Together". "We reject the cult of selfish individualism."

In a clear attempt to court the traditional supporters of other parties such as Labour and the United Kingdom Independence Party, May said she would ensure markets worked in the interests of consumers, and tackle what she called exploitative behaviour.

May said the public was rightly affronted by the remuneration of some corporate leaders and added that the next Conservative government would legislate to make executive pay packages subject to strict annual votes by shareholders.

She said she would tighten laws on company takeovers and would ensure any foreign group buying important infrastructure did not undermine security or essential services.

May said she stood within the mainstream of Conservative party thought, rejecting suggestions she had a distinctive personal approach or wanted to be compared with Thatcher.

"There is no 'Mayism'...There is good solid Conservatism, which puts the interests of the country and the interests of ordinary working people at the heart of everything we do."


If she wins, May will have one of the toughest jobs of any recent British prime minister: holding the United Kingdom and its economy together while conducting Brexit talks with EU leaders on finance, trade, security and immigration.

"The negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, and there will be give and take on both sides, but we continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK," May said in the document.

May has cast the Brexit vote as a "quiet revolution" that exposed the failings of modern in a way that can no longer be ignored by a leader who looks back to Thatcher, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee for inspiration.

"It is ...a portrait of the kind of country I want (Britain) be after Brexit as we chart our own way in the world," May said in the northern English town of Halifax, an area which voted to leave the EU and where the opposition Labour Party have a majority of just 428 votes.

She has promised fundamental - though yet to be detailed - reforms to fix problems ranging from arrogant elites and venal bosses to workers' rights, immigration and Britain's obsession with class privilege.

There are signs that Brexit could already be hitting the economy, such as quickening inflation, and May and her finance minister, Philip Hammond, are keen to gain some flexibility.

May committed to erasing the country's budget deficit by the middle of the next decade, allowing for greater borrowing to support the economy in the run-up to Brexit.

Hammond has previously said he would aim to put public finances back in the black as soon as possible after 2020.

Under existing plans, the deficit is projected to fall to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product by 2021/22, from 2.6 percent of GDP in the last financial year.

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Kate Holton, William Schomberg, Costas Pitas, Michael Holden, Estelle Shirbon and Andy Bruce; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by John Stonestreet)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)