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Business lobby in chilly reaction to Tory manifesto

20 May 2017

Britain will face "dire consequences" if it fails to secure a clean exit from the European Union, Theresa May warned as she unveiled her manifesto on Thursday, writes The Daily Express.

As well as the massive task of pulling the United Kingdom out of the European Union, the government elected next month will need to deal with the challenges of building a strong economy, tackling social division, meeting the pressures of an ageing society and making sure that Britain responds to the upheavals caused by fast-changing technology, she said.

"The next five years will be the most challenging that Britain has faced in my lifetime", she wrote in The Telegraph newspaper. And Brexit is the biggest and most complex task facing the next government - getting it right is vital for our country's future prosperity.

"Now more than ever, Britain needs strong and stable leadership to make the most of the opportunities Brexit brings for hard-working families". Nor do we recognise the Britain with which she invites us to unite, a mean-minded Tory place obsessed with "strong leadership" and with keeping foreigners out, that has nothing to do with the diverse, beautiful, argumentative, dynamic and culturally rich Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales that we know and love.

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The UK's top business lobby group has criticised the focus on reducing net migration in the Conservative Party's manifesto. "There is good, solid Conservatism that puts the interests of the country and the interests of ordinary working people at the heart of everything we do in government".

"We do not believe in untrammeled free markets", the document says.

The Conservative party have been promising since they came into power to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands - however net migration has remained much higher. For there are millions of us who are no longer impressed with the kind of brittle "strength" that comes from trampling on the views of half the people, and demanding their acquiescence in what they can not support; millions who want to live together in mutual respect rather than in a spirit of braying majority triumphalism, and to make common cause on the human values that matter, rather than on some myth of true-blue Tory Britishness that finally excludes and divides, far more than it unites.

"Alongside giving individuals greater control over their energy bills and protecting customers from unfair bills, we will help them to save energy".

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She rejected suggestions that policies such as an energy price cap, a commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on worldwide aid and new rights for workers represented a move away from the Conservatism of Margaret Thatcher.

May repeated her threat to walk away from the negotiations with the European Union if she deemed the terms on offer too onerous, although she said she wanted to secure a deal, including on new trade ties.

In a clear swipe at Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, she said voters would not be fooled by "politicians who promise the Earth and claim no tough choices will be required".

She promised that the Conservatives would be "upfront and honest about the scale of the task we face".

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