Theresa May expected to try and match Donald Trump's corporation tax cuts

The Prime Minister is looking to win back the business vote - in a speech that contrasts with some earlier attacks

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Indy Politics

Theresa May will suggest she will match Donald Trump's expected cuts to corporation tax as she attempts to hold out an olive branch to business leaders.

In her first speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference, the Prime Minister will stress her “aim” for the UK to maintain its status as having the lowest corporation tax rate in the G20 group of countries.

The British rate of tax on company profits currently stands at 20 per cent and is due to fall to 17 per cent by 2020.

The United States' President-elect has pledged to cut the federal business tax rate from 35 per cent to 15 per cent, raising the prospect of a further slashing of corporation tax in the UK.

Ms May will also say the Brexit vote presents an once-in-a-generation opportunity not just to leave the European Union but to change the country to make it fairer forever.

The PM's goal to ensure prosperity is shared more widely has been interpreted by some as anti-business, and her speech will seek to rebuild links with industry figures.

She will also announce plans to give science and research a funding boost worth £2 billion a year by 2020.

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Ms May will tell the CBI: “In the Autumn Statement on Wednesday, we will commit to substantial real terms increases in Government investment in R&D (research and development) - investing an extra £2 billion a year by the end of this Parliament to help put post-Brexit Britain at the cutting edge of science and tech.

“And we will also review the support we give innovative firms through the tax system ... because my aim is not simply for the UK to have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G20, but also one that is profoundly pro-innovation.”

The Prime Minister will insist she will “always believe in business” and the benefits it brings.

But she will stress firms need to do “more to spread those benefits around the country, playing by the same rules as everyone else when it comes to tax and behaviour, and investing in Britain for the long-term”.

Ms May will say: “We believe in free markets. They are the means by which we spread opportunity and lift people out of poverty.

“We believe in capitalism - the means by which we drive economic growth, putting people into work to provide for their families.

“And we believe in business - the entrepreneurs and the innovators who employ millions of people up and down this country - the basis for our prosperity.

“The Conservative Party - and the Government I lead - will always believe in these things.

“But I am here today not just to reaffirm these core beliefs, but to say that - if this is what we value - we need to be prepared to adapt and change.

“For if we support free markets, value capitalism and back business - and we do - we must do everything we can to keep faith with them.”

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