Is Boris the man to level the playing field on tech taxes?


By Lawrence Jones MBE, British tech entrepreneur and UKFast CEO. 

On the ‘Tech Tax’ issue

I was in a meeting with Boris Johnson a couple of weeks ago where we discussed the various different taxation issues with Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. He acknowledged that it's clearly not a level playing field. He gets it. 

I'm confident that he's the right man to try and finally remedy that issue and create a level playing field for British businesses which ultimately means more money for the British people, and more opportunities for our businesses to compete. 

On Brexit

As a business leader I'm not worried that Boris Johnson is going to hold us to the Brexit withdrawal date at the end of October. We've had more than enough uncertainty and delays now, and I'd rather have a set date to work to, despite concerns from some quarters about a no-deal scenario.

If the EU won't play ball and we leave without a deal, we will begin the negotiations from that point with a clean slate. The tech industry needs clarity and certainty on a huge number of issues, so we can’t just keep delaying.  

On the candidates

Boris Johnson is my preferred of the two candidates, so I’m relieved that it's him who became Prime Minister. 

Having met both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, the choice between the two became quite clear. Hunt said he would drop corporation tax. You would think I'd be over the moon at that as a businessperson but really, I don't want a drop in tax, and neither do most of the businesspeople I know. It’s this tax that funds essential services like schools, the police and hospitals, which are chronically underfunded.

Boris Johnson has to address the public sector, which has been undervalued for a significant period now. We need more police on the streets and we need proper pay increases for the emergency services, nurses and teachers.

Right now we need to invest our money in this country and in our public services, so cutting taxes may win a few hearts and minds in a very small minority, but it's not what the country needs. I want a strong economy where everybody prospers and I believe Boris is best equipped to deliver on that.   

Are you worried that Boris is prone to a gaffe? 

There's a significant difference between being Mayor of London and being our Prime Minister. I expect him to handle the job with dignity and I think he'll be a great leader. I've met him in person and he's an interesting character who is clearly very intelligent. Ultimately, we have to get behind the PM, regardless of our politics. He's the one that's representing us now across the globe. If he lets us down then we can all start complaining, but right now I'm behind him 100%, as I would be whoever took the top job.   

On Tory resignations

I'd urge the likes of Philip Hammond and the others who are jumping ship to just wait and see what happens. You've got to be around the table to negotiate and influence. They've worked hard to become politicians and now is the time to have that arm wrestle and have your voice heard. You can't be heard if you're not around the table, so it's crazy that people are sacrificing themselves just to make a point.

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