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a hemlock that poisoned Tories’ relationship with business

It’s not quite as simple as saying the Conservatives always used to be the party of business.

Margaret Thatcher’s incoming government had its moments with what her shadow trade spokesman John Nott called the “vulgar, tanked-up” bosses of the late Seventies. In 2001, as New Labour dominated and the Tories wandered in the wilderness, not a single frontbencher from William Hague’s opposition accepted an invitation to the annual CBI dinner.

David Cameron was critical of companies such as WH Smith in his early rhetoric as leader, which his ally Alan Duncan said was purely a device to distance the party from the imagery of “rapacious capitalist pigs”.

After the Tories’ 2015 election victory, George Osborne shocked commerce by making his first full-fat Conservative budget an


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