Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I've No Quarrel with Business Says Brown (but M&S Boss Begs to Differ)

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I've No Quarrel with Business Says Brown (but M&S Boss Begs to Differ)

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Waugh and Nicholas Cecil

GORDON BROWN claimed he had "no quarrel" with business today as he sought to get his election campaign back on the front foot.

The Prime Minister tried to sue for peace after Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose lashed out at suggestions that firms had been "deceived" into opposing Labour's National Insurance rise. Mr Brown sought to defuse the row by insisting that Labour was a "pro-business party, a pro-enterprise party". But Lord Mandelson, who sparked the original row last week, could not resist a jibe that Labour's wider plans for the economy were backed by industrialists and "not just metropolitanbased CEOs".

His remark appeared to be a dig at the lists of business leaders who have in the past week supported the Conservatives over the NI rise. The Business Secretary also said he would "tease my friend Stuart Rose" over his claim that his opposition was "not political".

Earlier, Sir Stuart said that Mr Brown had insulted the company chiefs who had supported Tory plans to reverse next year's tax rise on firms and workers.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's unfortunate that we have been dismissed. This is an important argument and to insult the collective intelligence of 60-plus chief executives is unhelpful. This is not a political point so much as a point about where tax should be levied."

In a bid to go on the offensive, Mr Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling instead attacked the Tories' plans to fund their tax break with [pounds sterling]12billion of Whitehall savings. Labour won support from the Liberal Democrats, with Nick Clegg warning that the Tory plans would result in a massive VAT rise of an average of [pounds sterling]389 for every household a year.

Speaking at a Labour press conference, Mr Brown said: "I've got no quarrel with business. …

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