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Is Britain still good for business?

Britain used to be good for business, but is it still? That was the motion I debated at the Cambridge Union alongside Damian Reece of the Telegraph Media Group, and Willie Walsh, former boss of BA and now CEO of International Airlines Group.

I said it was not, and cited the 50% top tax rate that punishes high earners without raising money, the 28% Capital Gains Tax that drives people to leave investment locked in to yesterday’s business rather than reinvesting it in growth industries.  I pointed to the 25% Corporation Tax, double that of the Republic of Ireland, and to the retroactive legislation used by the Treasury to make decisions of business that were legal at the time illegal after the fact.

Most of all I drew attention to the prevailing culture, fanned by the media, of hostility to achievement.  It is, I said, anti-business, anti-bankers, anti-bonuses, and anti-success.  It castigates those who create the wealth in society.

The House agreed, and our side narrowly won the debate, concluding that Britain is no longer good for business.  Obviously things need to change.

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