Osborne looks to court entrepreneurs

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The Independent Online

The Conservatives are looking to court entrepreneurs with the launch of a new advisory group, in a bid to capitalise on business leaders' disenchantment with the Chancellor's proposal to remove taper relief on capital gains tax.

George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor, has brought together some of the country's best-known businessmen, including the easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and Brent Hoberman, the co-founder of Lastminute.com, for today's launch of the group, called the New Enterprise Council.

Mr Osborne said that his party did not want to make the same mistake as Labour. "Labour refused to consult over its changes to the capital gains tax regime. The results have been a catastrophic drop in business confidence in the Government," he said. "We have the opportunity to listen to Britain's entrepreneurs and translate their experiences into policy so that Britain is the home to aspiration and can seize all the opportunities of the new economic revolution."

The Conservative Party said that the council will advise the shadow Chancellor on its priorities for government action. The group, which is to hold its first meeting next week, will discuss the country's environment for entrepreneurship and investment. It will sit beside other Conservative Party projects, including the Conservative City Circle, a liaison group for members of the financial services industry.

Others on the council include the hotelier Surinder Arora, Jimmy Choo's president Tamara Mellon, Seamark Group's chief executive, Iqbal Ahmed, and Stefan Glaenzer, the former executive chairman of Last.fm.

The Tory move comes two days after Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, the entrepreneur behind Cobra Beer, waded into the debate about the Government's plans to amend capital gains tax by saying they had "outraged" and "dismayed" entrepreneurs and had led to a "rift" between business and government.