Home Estate Planning Iceland boss backs Labour as Starmer promises to protect ‘pound in your pocket’

Iceland boss backs Labour as Starmer promises to protect ‘pound in your pocket’

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Former Conservative donor and Iceland boss Richard Walker has thrown his support behind the Labour Party, calling it the “right choice” for businesses.

The executive chairman of Iceland has endorsed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for Prime Minister, describing him as having “exactly what it takes to be a great leader”.

Writing in the Guardian, Walker said: “I am now clear in my own mind that Labour is the right choice for the communities across the country where Iceland operates – and the right choice for everyone in business who wants to see this country grow and prosper.”

It comes as Starmer pledged to shoppers and supermarket staff that Labour “will always value the pound in your pocket”, while on a visit to Iceland in Warrington.

On Walker’s endorsement, the Labour leader said he was “delighted” and that the retail boss recognised “that we’re a changed Labour Party, that we’re pro-working people, we’re serious about the cost-of-living crisis and about stability and long-term strategy”. 

The former Tory donor, who quit his Conservative party membership in October last year, said Labour understood “business, sustainable and green growth, and the power of partnerships between the state and the market”.

And he even levelled an accusation at Rishi Sunak’s party of having “failed the nation”.

Walker, who also previously sought to stand as a Conservative parliamentary candidate, wrote: “The Tories’ abandonment of what I have always regarded as basic Conservative principles has not only fuelled my personal disenchantment, it is also reflected in the total collapse of public confidence we can see in every opinion poll.”

He told BBC Breakfast: “I think the Conservatives have failed the nation. They’ve drifted badly out of touch with people like my customers and they’re drifting further and further to the right.”

The supermarket boss said he “look[s] forward” to voting for Labour at the next election and hoped to see them secure the “majority they will need to begin delivering their recovery programme for the UK”.

But he said he did not agree with every Labour proposal and would not become a party member as he wanted to “retain my ability to speak out without fear or favour”.

Starmer, who is preparing for Labour’s sold-out business conference on Thursday, also hinted at a possible job for Walker in a future administration.

He told reporters: “Richard Walker is wanting to work with us. He’s made it absolutely clear why he supports us and we’ll continue to talk to him.”

A Conservative source said: “Walker is supporting Labour because the Conservatives refused to circumvent selection rules to hand him a safe seat despite an intense campaign which went as far as getting his dad to write to the party on his behalf.

“This just proves the party was right. Given his clear lack of principles he should fit in well with Sir Keir Starmer.”

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