Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has told an audience of bankers that Labour will “bring you into government with us”, as the self-proclaimed Marxist continued his charm offensive with City bosses.
Mr McDonnell said he was keen to work with finance executives on policies to boost “long-term investment” in the economy from both the private and public sectors, claiming the Labour Party was “largely on the same page” as bankers.
Conservative City minister John Glen earlier took a different view, warning Labour posed a bigger threat to UK prosperity than a chaotic Brexit, branding the Labour front bench “mavericks” who would “unravel decades of economic policy”.
Mr McDonnell admitted “there’ll be some things you don’t like” to delegates at TheCityUK’s annual conference in Westminster should Labour take power.
Higher taxes for the wealthy, profit sharing among workers, and giving staff more say over company decisions are all likely to go down badly with City bosses.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly harrangued banks, warning them they are "right" to consider a Labour Government a threat.
When bankers like Morgan Stanley say we’re a threat, they’re right.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 30, 2017
The next Labour Government is a threat to a damaging and failed system that’s rigged for the few. pic.twitter.com/v1ujMkngdv
But Mr McDonnell insisted he wanted lenders to play an “integral and leading part” in delivering Labour’s policies to channel cash into UK infrastructure and industry.
“There’s an open door to myself and our whole team,” he said. “We want you to be partners in this exercise. We don’t expect you to join the Labour Party. We want you to give us an honest critique of what we’re doing.”
The shadow chancellor also urged City bosses to “speak up” about the dangers posed by a disorderly Brexit.
Mr McDonnell’s comments come after a round of “tea and biscuits” meetings with City bosses in recent months to discuss Labour policies, including with executives at Goldman Sachs and Barclays.
Mr Glen earlier said the UK would not “pull up the draw bridge” to global trade after Brexit, insisting the City would remain “a lighthouse of British enterprise… projecting a bold, confident and global Britain to the world”.
He said the Government was sympathetic to TheCityUK’s recent paper on immigration, which demanded visa waivers for short-term business travel to the UK from the EU.
“I cannot conceive of any circumstance where we would want to impede or prevent the flow of highly skilled or highly paid people,” Mr Glen said.
Opposition politicians including Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable have previously warned against a “two tier system that involves one rule for bankers and another for everyone else”. TheCityUK says its policy would help companies in all sectors.
Barclays chairman John McFarlane also addressed the conference, arguing that the UK’s financial services must be protected in trade deals even if this has a negative impact on manufacturing.
He raised Australia as an example, saying the country had decided to make a “conscious trade-off” by pursuing trade deals that included both services and goods, to the detriment of its industry.
“In the past, many major carmakers had plants in Australia, now there are none. All cars are imported,” he said.
Mr McFarlane urged politicians to take a “pragmatic” approach in Brexit negotiations, adding: “We can’t take our world-leading position in financial services for granted.”