May Pledges Corporate Crackdown as Osborne Courts Wall Street

  • Chancellor to lobby investors in U.S., China, Singapore
  • Eagle to challenge Corbyn as May-Leadsom Tory race heats up

Osborne Heads to Wall Street to Shore up Confidence

U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May pledged to crack down on corporate irresponsibility if she succeeds David Cameron as prime minister, as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne headed to Wall Street on Monday to shore up investor confidence.

Shareholder votes on executive pay will become binding and companies will be required to have shareholders and workers represented on their boards in an effort to make big businesses more accountable, May will say in a speech Monday, according to e-mailed extracts. Laying out her pitch for Conservative Party members to choose her ahead of Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, her only remaining rival for the leadership, May is also due to say that she’ll honor last month’s referendum vote to leave the European Union.

Theresa May on July 11.

Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

“We’re the party of enterprise, but that does not mean we should be prepared to accept that anything goes,” May will say. “Our country needs strong, proven leadership to steer us through this time of economic and political uncertainty and to negotiate the best deal for Britain as we leave the European Union and forge a new role for ourselves in the world. Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it.”

Osborne Tour

May is trying to persuade the 150,000-strong Tory party membership that she’s the safe pair of hands needed to steer the economy through uncertain times, after last month’s Brexit vote roiled financial markets, sending the pound plummeting to its lowest in more than three decades. With the new leader not due to be announced until Sept. 9, Cameron’s government is also trying to steady the markets. Osborne’s visit to New York Monday is part of a two-week shuttle tour of the U.S., China and Singapore to persuade financiers to stick with Britain.

“While Britain’s decision to leave the EU clearly presents economic challenges, we now have to do everything we can to make the U.K. the most attractive place in the world to do business,” the chancellor said in a statement. “Britain may be leaving the EU, but we are not quitting the world.‎”

The pound dipped again on Monday in early trading, approaching the lowest level in 31 years, while real-estate funds are being frozen to avoid fire sales. Sterling was down 0.5 percent to $1.2888 as of 9:44 a.m. in London.

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“It is still too early to claim that we can see the bottom of the political and economic disaster unraveling in the U.K.,” Erik Nielsen, chief economist at UniCredit Bank AG, told clients in a report on Sunday. “You should expect more downside for the pound, and it’s probably not the end yet of the evolving real estate crisis.”

In a sign global policy makers are readying for a so-called Brexit, President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both said they expect the U.K. to leave the EU as per the June 23 referendum.

Osborne will meet some of America’s biggest investors in New York before holding talks later in the week in London with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, his office said. He will also journey to see fellow EU finance ministers in Brussels.

In an article published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Osborne revealed that he had already spoken to House Speaker Paul Ryan several times in the past two weeks about building a stronger trading relationship with the U.S.


The trips come days after he met executives from banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to defend London’s status as a financial capital. He has also spoken with Chinese officials to maintain trade ties.

Such meetings may burnish his credentials as a future foreign secretary if the next prime minister decides to move him from the Treasury he has run since 2010. They also may deflect criticism that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is alone at the helm of the U.K. economy following the Brexit vote. The central bank will cut interest rates this week for the first time since 2009, according to 29 of 53 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

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May will use her speech, at 11 a.m. in Birmingham, to signal a drive for social justice, providing “a vision of a country that works for everyone -- not just the privileged few.” 

“Under my leadership, the Conservative Party will put itself completely, absolutely, unequivocally, at the service of working people,” May will say, in a pitch to voters seen as the bedrock of the opposition Labour Party, which is itself in turmoil.

Labour’s former business spokeswoman, Angela Eagle, plans to announce a challenge on Monday to Jeremy Corbyn, the embattled leader who has seen dozens of his team quit and lost a no-confidence vote.

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