The Yorkshire Post by Mason Boycott-Owen
Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in Birmingham yesterday, Mr Sunak said he wanted to make Britain a “beacon” for the “best and brightest” as well as focusing on innovation.
However, he largely avoided directly answering the CBI’s demands for immigration to be used to plug gaps in the domestic workforce, saying the UK’s focus is on tackling the small boats crisis.
Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, said it was “great” to hear Rishi Sunak speak about his “deeply held convictions and passion” for innovation, as well as the benefits it can reap on the economy.
But he said the PM only began to lay out his vision for a “new approach” in a speech to the CBI’s annual conference yesterday, as he called for more detail to help businesses invest with confidence.
Mr Sunak was also criticised for a lack of clarity on planning reform to kickstart British industry.
Responding to Mr Sunak’s speech at the CBI, Matthew Lesh, Head of Public Policy at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: "Britain's prosperity will not come from the benevolence of Rishi Sunak, but rather, from our creators, thinkers, and entrepreneurs.
“The Prime Minister said there is a need to be ‘bold and radical’ in challenging conventional wisdom, only to proposed the usual mix of top-down state-centric solutions. The government needs an agenda to remove barriers to innovation and growth.
"Sunak entirely failed to discuss the single biggest handbrake on our prosperity: Britain’s broken planning system. It hampers the construction of infrastructure, factories, lab space and housing, which are all essential to innovation and growth.”
Sam Richards, the founder of Britain Remade, said: "Britain is crying out for a long term plan for growth, but Rishi's speech was missing a key ingredient.
“Promoting innovation is a worthy cause to take up, but innovation is not just about more funding for R&D (valuable though that is) - fundamentally, innovation depends on us building.
“We need to build more houses and better transport connections to allow people to live near the best jobs – and we need to bring down the cost of energy by building new clean domestic sources of power.
“And when we innovate, we need to be able to deploy the idea close to home. At the moment, if an entrepreneur develops a better onshore wind turbine, they will have to go outside England to bring it to market. We can only build new innovative industries if we allow them to actually build."
It comes as Sir Keir Starmer said that Labour would end the UK’s reliance on cheap foreign labour.
Today he will warn bosses the days of “low pay and cheap labour” must end as he tells them to train up UK workers to end Britain’s “immigration dependency”.
The Labour leader will signal in his speech at the CBI that he would be willing to accept increased skilled immigration on the path to his vision of ending the “low pay model”.
“We will expect you to bring forward a clear plan for higher skills and more training, for better pay and conditions, for investment in new technology,” he is expected to tell business leaders gathered in Birmingham.
“But our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency. To start investing more in training up workers who are already here.
“But let me tell you – the days when low pay and cheap labour are part of the British way on growth must end.”