Friday High Five – has the business community stopped listening to the Government?

A new poll this week predicted electoral wipeout for the Conservative Party at the next General Election – and so, naturally, its members have spent most of the last five days having a very public argument about the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda – something, the party seem to think will be a huge vote winner if it manages to pull its plan off.

While Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith (both East Midlands representatives, lest we forget) took to the airwaves (or at least GB News) to mystifyingly resign their posts as deputy chairs of the Tory party over Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda Bill only to vote for it 24 hours later, employers across the region continue to be buffeted by economic headwinds.

Scores of people in the business community over the last 24 months, all of them self-confessed lifelong Tory voters, have said to me that they simply can’t or won’t be placing their X in the blue box next time around.

Their gripe can usually be boiled down to a common theme: this Government, or the one under Liz Truss – or the one under Boris Johnson (it’s hard to keep up, I know) simply won’t or doesn’t want to listen to the genuine concerns of business owners.

And while they have little fondness for Keir Starmer or the Labour Party in 2024, he and they are seen as more competent when it comes to handling the country than the current incumbent at Number 10 who has been described as “out of touch” – and that’s putting it kindly. As one round table attendee told me before Christmas: “I think there seems to be a real disconnect between this government and the real world.”

A business community that has been buffeted by Brexit, Covid, high interest rates and business taxes and soaring inflation appears ready to back a new horse. With a Budget now just weeks away, it’ll be fascinating to see what Chancellor Jeremy Hunt pulls out of his hat. He and his party really do feel like they’re in the Last Chance Saloon.

Have a great weekend.