Business campaign focus as Conservatives and Labour send in economics big hitters Priti Patel and Chuka Umunna to region

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business minister, meets with a group of entrepreneurs from Norwich's

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business minister, meets with a group of entrepreneurs from Norwich's burgeoning tech industry to discuss Labour’s plans for small businesses.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Business was the focus of the campaign trail in the region as the two main parties sent in their economics big hitters.

Chuka Umunna, Labour's shadow business secretary, and the Conservatives' Priti Patel, the Exchequer secretary to the Treasury, visited Norwich to set out their parties' policies.

Mr Umunna met entrepreneurs from start-up companies at NWES in the Norwich Enterprise Centre.

'The biggest threat to business is leaving the EU and we are the only party to rule out a referendum,' he said. 'Small businesses are being clobbered by business rates and taxes and a Labour government would work to relieve this.'

Commenting on a letter signed by 5,000 small-business owners who pledged their support to the Conservatives, Mr Umunna dismissed it as something which was 'clearly orchestrated' from the Conservative Central Office.

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Kevin Horne, chief executive of NWES, said Mr Umunna seemed to 'be normal and actually listening to what businesses want'.

'Irrespective of politics, he would make a very good secretary of state,' he added.

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Meanwhile, Ms Patel visited Norwich business director Paul Attoe – one of the letter's signatories – of MKM Norwich Building Supplies on Vulcan Road North, Norwich.

She said the business was at the heart of the economy.

'They are about the building trade and about construction. They are a real litmus test in terms of the state of the economy,' she added.

'Paul has signed the business letter – he is calling for continuity and stability in the economy. The building trade has got greater certainty.'

Mr Attoe said his staff knew his views, and he told them where he was coming from. 'I have my beliefs and at the moment they [the Conservatives] are being successful [with the economy],' he added.

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