Gary Neville in Yorkshire: 'I'm not anti-Tory, I was more anti-Boris Johnson and anti-Truss'

Gary Neville says he believes a future Labour government would have a positive relationship with property developers and other British businesses.

Speaking to an invited audience at the UKREiiF real estate investment conference in Leeds about his business and sporting careers and the parallels between them, Neville was asked by a member of the audience how a prospective new Labour administration would treat the property industry.

Despite being an outspoken critic of the Government in recent years and a current Labour party member, Neville denied he was “anti-Tory” and said he finds nothing offensive about Rishi Sunak.

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He said his discussions with Sir Keir Starmer as well as his own experiences of working as a developer with the Labour-led Manchester City Council make him believe Labour would have a positive relationship with the property industry.

Gary Neville speaking to an invited audience at the UKREiiF real estate investment conference in LeedsGary Neville speaking to an invited audience at the UKREiiF real estate investment conference in Leeds
Gary Neville speaking to an invited audience at the UKREiiF real estate investment conference in Leeds

He said: "I have spoken to Keir a number of times and some of his cabinet and MPs. I think they are smart enough to know they have to talk to all sectors of life and business in this country. I think they understand that.

"Obviously, the last Labour Government understood that. They wanted to be kinder, they wanted to be caring, they wanted public services to be better but they also recognised the good the private sector can do.

"I think the reason that Manchester has thrived over the last 15 to 20 years is not because of central Government, it is because of entrepreneurial forward-thinking councils who realise they have got to regenerate and build their cities and not wait for Government is going to give you because it is not going to be a lot, it is certainly not going to be enough.

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“I think Labour would understand and people would recognise Keir Starmer is not going to come in and do something radical in respect to destroying investment in this country and inward investment. That will not happen because they wouldn’t get elected.

"I’m hopeful they will get in purely because we need a change.

"I’m not anti-Tory, I was more anti-Boris Johnson and anti-Truss. During lockdown I would be on calls and I just thought we should go in for this Government – Williamson, Hancock, Raab, Rees-Mogg, Johnson. Whatever you say about these people you will not be wrong in time.

"Our parents taught us what is wrong and right. This is nothing to do with being Labour or Conservative, this is to do with what is wrong or right. That was never right.

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"I actually think this current leader doesn’t offend me in any way shape or form. People have problems with him but I don’t personally think this guy is a really bad person. I don’t, I think the people before weren’t right. You wouldn’t have them in charge of your business, you wouldn’t have them as your partner, you wouldn’t have them anywhere near you in your life. So why would you have them running the country?

"But the reason we can’t have Sunak as leader is he was next to the guy who was doing wrong for many years and didn’t do anything. For me he is as bad as the rest in that sense but he isn’t as offensive to watch in terms of being the face of our country. I couldn’t bear the thought of Boris Johnson representing us around the world and representing us in Europe. We do need a change in Government because we need to rebuild relationship and trust in Parliament and rebuild international relations. I’m a Labour party member and I do want Labour to win and they should win because we need a change. But I only started speaking out when I thought there was something really wrong and really bad.”

‘Learning to delegate took years’

Gary Neville says he has taken him time to learn to delegate as a businessman following his successful career in football with Manchester United.

Neville was in Leeds to discuss the work of two of his planning consultancy businesses, Zerum and Mosodi. The latter firm has an office in Leeds.

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He also runs his own investment and development firm, called Relentless, but takes a more “passive” role in Zerum and Mosodi as a shareholder.

He said in his first few years in business he was “micro-managing everything” to the point of reading contractual documents on the Manchester United team bus.

"Back then I was literally reading every single line of everything. It is impossible when you are trying to grow multiple businesses.”