Industrial Strategy poll finds surprising popularity of government intervention with business

Today shareholders in British engineering firm GKN must decide whether to accept a hostile bid from Melrose, a turnaround specialist, or stick with the present management.  Theresa May’s government, now espousing an ‘industrial strategy’, worries about allowing one of Britain’s few remaining defence contractors to be split up and sold off.  

As part of a report on cross border trade, GS1 UK, a not-for profit barcode organisation, polled more than 1,000 British businesses, employing in excess of 100,000 people across the country, establishing what they want they think of Theresa May’s ‘proper industrial strategy’.

GS1 UK’s report said: “In the past, Theresa May has pitched some ideas that would have been bad for business – including interfering with company boards and a cap on pay. Back in 2016, she seemed intent on limiting foreign takeovers of British companies. And in 2017, the Government published a Green Paper to create a ‘proper industrial strategy’ for Britain, involving intervening in the economy to correct perceived imbalances.

“We thought that the Prime Minister’s talk of a proper industrial strategy and more active intervention, would be unpopular with industry. We were wrong. When we asked British businesses if they thought Britain should have a proper industrial strategy, 77 per cent of small businesses said they thought we should have a proper industrial strategy. Even at her least laissez-faire, the Prime Minister was on safe ground with British business.”

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