Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that such a change is the “fiscally responsible thing to do at the present time” during a speech today to the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) despite saying during his leadership bid he would cut the levy.
The announcement came as the CBI’s Director General Carolyn Fairbairn warned confidence in Britain is faltering amid “extreme ideology” on both sides of the political divide.
She said: “On the right, we have the threat of - even preference for - no deal as the end point of our Brexit negotiations.
“For some on the right, this preference for no deal is driven by a zeal for something beyond this - and that is the wholesale deregulation of the UK economy. But I want to be clear that this is not what British firms, large or small, want.”
Firms want to improve the quality of good jobs, not diminish them and will do all they can to make Brexit work, she added.
“Meanwhile, ideology from the left is at least as damaging. The Labour Party is proposing the biggest programme of re-nationalisation this country has ever seen, at great cost, with uncertain returns to the taxpayer, and with no clear route to better customer service.”
However, Mr Johnson was adamant in his position and began with his campaign vow to “get Brexit done” as it is the “best thing” for the economy. He re-iterated his Brexit deal has the “explicit support of every one of the 635 Conservative candidates at this election” before switching his focus on to the domestic agenda.
Mr Johnson said: “If the potential of our country is enormous then so is the injustice because there are some regions of our country that are now 50 per cent less productive than London.”
He added: “There are some parts of the country where people’s lives are a decade shorter than elsewhere, where educational outcomes are vastly different. Now imagine if we could change that, imagine if every child in this country had the same start, had the same encouragement at the beginning of their lives.”
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn vowed to put an end to the “tax tricks” that allow the “biggest corporations to avoid paying their way”, in a speech at the same conference. The Labour Leader dismissed as “nonsense” claims that he is anti-business, and instead said his government would bring “more investment” to businesses than they have “ever dreamt of”.
He told the CBI he was “not making any apologies” for pledging to bring some key services into public ownership, saying: “It’s not an attack on the foundations of a modern economy, it’s the very opposite. It’s the norm in many European countries.
“It’s taking the essential steps to build a genuinely mixed economy for the 21st century.”
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson insisted plans to abolish business rates will “rescue the High Street”. She said staying in the EU would deliver a £50bn boost to the economy, and heralded plans to replace business rates with a commercial landowner levy as “bold and innovative”.