UK Businesses Prefer Labour’s Rayner Despite Workers Rights Plan

(Bloomberg) -- Almost twice as many British business leaders would prefer Labour’s Angela Rayner to be the next deputy prime minister over the Conservative incumbent, Oliver Dowden, according to a new poll, despite concern about her workers rights agenda.

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Some 34% of the 1,000 UK business decision-makers surveyed by polling firm Savanta in June said they would prefer Rayner, who served as shadow secretary of state for leveling up, housing and communities before Parliament was dissolved. That compares with 17% for Dowden, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s right-hand man and the current deputy prime minister.

Around 32% of respondents said they preferred neither. Those who took part were owners and directors for small businesses, and senior managers or executives for medium and large companies.

Rayner remains the favorite even though some 51% of respondents said they were concerned about the workers rights plan that she has championed. That compares with 67% who said they worried about the economy if Labour took power and 61% who said that immigration would be a concern.

“Our research suggests that business leaders are more concerned about what impact a Labour government might have on fundamentals such as the economy and taxation, rather than more controversial topics such as workers’ rights and EDI policy — implying the Conservatives don’t necessarily understand the needs of a usually receptive key audience,” said Chris Hopkins, political research director at Savanta.

Still, half said that Keir Starmer’s opposition party would be the best choice for business, giving it a 22-point lead over Sunak’s Tories, a margin in line with broader polling. “Head-to-head, business decision-makers prefer Labour figures over most of their Conservative counterparts by a pretty convincing margin,” Hopkins said.

Some 42% of businesses preferred Starmer to be the UK’s next prime minister, giving him a 15-percentage-point lead over Sunak. Rachel Reeves held a narrower, 5-point lead over Conservative chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to take up the top post at the Treasury.

Labour’s business-secretary-in-waiting, Jonathan Reynolds, was favored over incumbent Kemi Badenoch, 26% to 19%. The only Conservative official preferred by more businesses over his Labour counterpart was Foreign Secretary David Cameron, whom led would-be replacement David Lammy, 34% to 25%

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