Labour's relationship with business has 'fundamentally changed' since 2019, says Jonathan Reynolds on Ossett visit

Labour’s relationship with business has “fundamentally” changed since the party’s chastening defeat in the 2019 General Election, the party’s Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds has claimed during a visit to Yorkshire.

Mr Reynolds was in Ossett on Tuesday to visit local businesses alongside Jade Botterill, the party’s candidate for the newly-created constituency of Ossett and Denby Dale.

His visit coincided with the fourth anniversary of the 2019 General Election, in which Labour won just 202 seats and 32.1 per cent of the vote; its worst results since 1935.

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Speaking to The Yorkshire Post during his visit to Ossett, Mr Reynolds said the party’s relationship with business is one of the three biggest areas of change for Labour since Keir Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader in the wake of the 2019 election.

Jade Botterill, Labour candidate for Ossett and Denby Dale, visiting the Bier Huis in Ossett with Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds.Jade Botterill, Labour candidate for Ossett and Denby Dale, visiting the Bier Huis in Ossett with Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds.
Jade Botterill, Labour candidate for Ossett and Denby Dale, visiting the Bier Huis in Ossett with Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds.

Mr Reynolds said: “The attitude of businesses towards the Labour party has changed fundamentally.

"The message we are trying to get out around the country today is just how strongly Labour has changed since the party got defeated in 2019.

"I would say one of the most visible ways the party has changed is our relationship with business.

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"I would put that up in the top three with alongside our approach to anti-semitism and ripping it out of the party and our attitude to defence and NATO and situations like the war in Ukraine.

"I describe us as the natural party of business because I believe we are the only party really focused on the things that really matter to business and the things that will remove the barriers to this country growing more strongly.

"We haven’t grown as an economy as we should have since 2010.

"It is not just about us changing how we are as a political party, it is about fundamentally how we believe the challenges of the country have to be faced. We need a good, strong relationship with business to do that and the reaction from business has been huge. They are looking for a partner they need, they don’t think they have got it in the government.

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"If you look at our policies – our industrial strategy, our plans for high streets, our plan to secure low carbon energy in the UK and reforms to business rates, the Apprenticeship Levy and the planning system, this is all about working in partnership with business to deliver higher growth, higher living standards and the kind of working wages we want everyone in Britain to have.”

During the visit, Mr Reynolds visited the Bier Huis beer shop and bar, as well as Martha's Card and Gift Shop. He said part of Labour’s plan to reform business rates is to assist small businesses looking to expand in a way that is not possible under the current system.

"We want a new system that removes the barriers to growth and investment,” he said. "All the businesses we have been to today I think have been exempt from business rates because they are beneath the threshold. But they can’t expand as if any of them took on a second premises they would lose that relief.

"We want to remove those disincentives and we also want a system of business taxation that is a much fairer balance between online businesses and physical premises, making sure people have a level playing field.

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"Tackling anti-social behaviour is a massive part of our town centre plan. It is not so much an issue in Ossett where there’s not many vacant premises but we are also going to give councils much stronger powers to deal with planning blight and shops that lie vacant. We are going to give local authorities the ability to go in and bring premises back into use where they are being neglected by landlords.

"It is a set of policies that is all about making sure there is a vibrant future for all high streets in the country given how important they are.”

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