In a speech steeped in rhetoric about the role of the government to bear down on irresponsible capitalism, the prime minister said she would tackle “unfairness” wherever she found it, from tax evasion to high household energy bills. The government would be “coming after” tax-dodging companies and their advisers. Most businesses were well run, she said, but there were valid concerns about how a “small number of businesses” behaved. Their actions tarnished the reputation of the wider corporate world, she claimed. The comments prompted concern among business groups at a time when UK plc is already facing great uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote. Adam Marshall, acting director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “We need government to act in partnership with business communities, not dictate to them.” James Sproule, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said businesspeople were not “pantomime villains”, adding: “There are hundreds of thousands of hard-working entrepreneurs who are more likely to remortgage their homes than own a superyacht. Those people will now be watching the Autumn Statement and the chancellor like a hawk.” The prime minister repeated her plans to shake up corporate governance in UK boardrooms by putting worker and consumer representatives on boards, introducing annual binding pay votes and making companies publish pay ratios.
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