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BT and Lloyds chiefs among new business advisers to Sunak

The new chief executive of BT Group and the boss of Britain's biggest high street lender are among a cohort of business leaders who will be unveiled by Downing Street on Wednesday as advisers to Rishi Sunak.

Sky News has learnt that Allison Kirkby, who will replace Philip Jansen as BT CEO on Thursday, is to join the prime minister's final business council before the next general election.

She will be joined by Charlie Nunn, the Lloyds Banking Group CEO, along with a group of senior business figures from both listed and private companies, a Downing Street source said on Tuesday.

The full list comprises executives from Almac Group, housebuilder Barratt Developments, sportswear brand Castore, sandwich chain Greggs, Informed Solutions, ITV, Nationwide, OMass Therapeutics, Principality Building Society, Raspberry Pi, Rolls-Royce, Scottish Power and Unilever, the source added.

Collectively, the companies employ more than 200,000 people in Britain, the Downing Street source said.

An insider said the line-up would be timed in a bid to put the brakes on Labour's growing momentum with the British business community, with a major conference on Thursday expected to be attended by hundreds of people from major companies across the economy.

This week, Labour published a report on its future approach to dealing with the private sector as it seeks to further distance itself from the frosty relationship it had under Sir Keir Starmer's predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

Sky News revealed on Monday that a separate report orchestrated by Tulip Siddiq, the shadow City minister, would call for an expanded role for the British Business Bank amid concern that not enough is being done to assist companies with substantial growth potential.

Last year's business council, convened by Mr Sunak in July, met just three times, and drew a sceptical response from some of those who attended.

Among its members were executives from J Sainsbury, Vodafone, AstraZeneca, Diageo and NatWest Group.

It was unclear how many times the PM intended to meet his 2024 line-up of advisers given the frenzied nature of his domestic pre-election schedule and significant international crises occupying a substantial chunk of his time.

Downing Street did not respond to several requests for comment, while BT and Lloyds both declined to comment.