Gopichand Hinduja, one of Britain’s richest men, said he isn’t worried about the prospect of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband becoming prime minister because he’s “sensible” and wouldn’t hurt London’s international status.
Labour has struggled to get business backing since Miliband became leader in 2010, in part because of his 2011 call for the government to distinguish between “producer” companies and “predators.” The support from Hinduja, the 75-year-old co-chairman of Hinduja Group, while stopping short of an endorsement, is a boost on the day the party sets out what it plans to do if elected.
“I have met him personally,” Hinduja said in an interview. “He’s very sensible and a person with depth. He may not look that visionary, but he has fire in his belly.”
Two days after Miliband launched Labour’s business manifesto on March 30, promising not to hold a referendum on leaving the European Union, more than 100 business figures signed a letter endorsing the Conservative Party and saying that “a change in course will threaten jobs and deter investment.”
Hinduja, who with his brother Srichand is at the top of the Sunday Times list of Britain’s richest people, said Labour’s announcement this week that it would end Britain’s system of allowing people with foreign connections to avoid tax on overseas earnings by claiming “non-domicile” status was a “bright idea” that would win votes.
He said he doubted Labour would implement the policy in such a way that it would deter wealthy foreigners from coming to Britain.
“You have a good financial center,” he said. “It’s easy to do business. You have beautiful parks. We have beautiful restaurants. Do you think Mr. Miliband, with all his wisdom, would like this to disappear?”
In a statement that may be less helpful to Miliband, he said the policy “makes no difference to me or my family” because his holdings are structured across 38 countries so that such matters are “well taken care’” of.
The brothers are best known in British politics for a 2001 scandal over Srichand’s U.K. citizenship. Peter Mandelson was forced to resign as Northern Ireland Secretary after it was reported he had intervened on Srichand’s behalf. He was later cleared of wrongdoing.
The Hinduja Group, founded in 1914, has interests in energy, chemicals, health care, film production, media, real estate finance and information technology.