May says to be ‘unashamedly pro-business’ as UK leaves EU

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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May waits to greet Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at Downing Street in London, Britain, November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The British government will be “unashamedly pro-business” as it seeks to forge the country’s future role outside the European Union, but business must also act responsibly, Prime Minister Theresa May will say on Monday.

In a speech at Mansion House in the City of London financial district, May will say Britain must be the strongest advocate for free trade, but also manage the forces of globalisation so that everyone benefits from them.

Discontent among those seen as “left behind” by globalisation was considered a key driver of Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union.

“The government I lead is unequivocally and unashamedly pro-business … We will do everything we can to make the UK outside the EU the most attractive place for businesses to invest and grow,” May will say, according to extracts of the speech released in advance by her office.

“But in return, it is right to ask business to play its part in ensuring we build a country that works for everyone. And that British business, which is so often on the frontline of our engagement with the world … is seen not just to do business but to do that business in the right way.”

May will say that while businesses play a key role in creating jobs, generating wealth and supporting the economy, Britain must also recognise that the reputation of business can be undermined by those who “appear to game the system and work to a different set of rules”.

The government is due to put forward proposals later this year aimed at improving corporate behaviour, including tackling excessive executive pay. May has also previously talked about the responsibility of companies to pay their taxes.

The government will seek to use its new industrial strategy to help ensure that families and communities who may lose out from global trade can actually benefit from it, May will say.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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