Sir Martin Sorrell says general election is ‘another excuse to do nothing’

The chief executive of WPP also said the June snap election would give the Prime Minister ‘more wiggle room’

Josie Co
Business Editor
Wednesday 20 December 2017 12:00
Sir Martin Sorrell Sir Martin Sorrell says general election is ‘another excuse to do nothing’

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising behemoth WPP, said that another general election in the UK is just “another excuse to do nothing”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Martin also said, however, that the June snap election, which Theresa May called for on Tuesday, would give the Prime Minister “more wiggle room” in relation to the negotiations around Brexit.

The millionaire businessman came out in favour of the UK remaining in the European Union last year and he said on Wednesday that the rising pound was indicating a belief in the markets that a new election might lead to a “softer Brexit”.

Sterling surged to its highest level since December on Tuesday and chalked up its biggest single-day gain against the dollar since March last year.

Sir Martin said that the election “gives [Ms May] more room to manoeuvre in a transition agreement” and a better stance to negotiate on things like free movement of people.

Any restriction on the movement of people into the UK and the EU after Brexit has the potential to have an outsized impact on companies like WPP that have huge international exposure and operations all over the world.

Sir Martin, who is one of the richest businessmen in Britain, was also asked about the prospect of a cap being introduced for executive pay.

“We’ve always been in favour of pay for performance and now we’re going to have even that under threat,” he said.

He said that if a cap is introduced, he’d be concerned about “where talent will go”.

He said that an upper limit would threaten to “squeeze” companies that are publicly listed and drive talent into what he describes as the private sector, including private equity firms that “are not controlled”.

According to analysis published by the Equality Trust last month, FTSE 100 bosses now take home an average of £5.3m each year, which is a staggering 386 times higher than what a worker earning the national living wage pockets.

The information compiled by the charity, which is dedicated to fighting income inequality in the UK, showed that Sir Martin was most recently the highest paid of all FTSE 100 bosses taking home more than £70m, which is 2,550 times higher than the average UK wage.

Other companies that rank in the top five for chief executive compensation are Reckitt Benckiser, Sky, Shire and BP. In light of the data, the Equality Trust said that it had developed a petition calling on the Government to introduce mandatory pay ratios for top earners.

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