A former Marks & Spencer chief executive has condemned the prime minister’s attacks on business as “stupid”.
Lord Rose, who was chairman of Ocado and may soon be offered the same job at Asda, said companies had been “tarred” by the Brexit referendum.
“There is still a feeling that businesses are predominantly ‘Remain’,” he told The Telegraph.
“It’s unfortunate because business is actually a lot more pragmatic and forward looking than anybody really understands.”
The Conservative life peer – who chaired the pro-EU Remain campaign in 2016 – added: “Business people want to run a business successfully.
“They want to run a business profitably and they want to run the business for the good of their investors and for the good of themselves.
“Why would they want to be stuck in a trench that was dug six years ago?”
Relations between the government and business are fractious, with Boris Johnson recently accusing companies of becoming reliant on cheap labour.
One MP at this year’s Conservative Party Conference called for the collapse of supermarket supply chains.
The low point came in 2018, when Johnson apparently said “f— business” to dismiss companies’ concern over Brexit.
Rose called the comment “the stupidest thing I ever heard”.
“At the end of the day, very simplistically, we only know one successful form of economics, which is capitalism,” he continued.
Firms are being hammered by inflation from soaring costs of materials, energy and labour.
The prices are starting to trickle through to consumers, with grocery inflation hitting a 14-month high at 2.1 per cent in October.
According to the Bank of England, overall inflation will peak around 5 per cent next year.
“I think it’ll be for longer rather than shorter,” Rose said, pointing to examples from abroad.
“Look at what’s happening. America is now 6.2 per cent. The factory gate inflation in China is now 13 per cent.”