July 11, 2016 / 1:47 PM / 2 years ago

Key excerpts from the leadership launch of Britain's Theresa May

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Theresa May set out her plans for the country in a speech on Monday, promising to put the government at the service of “ordinary working people”.

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May speaks during her Conservative party leadership campaign at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in Birmingham, England, Britain July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Yates

An hour later, her only rival withdrew from the race, meaning interior minister May is likely to become the next prime minister imminently.

Below are excerpts from her speech:

SOCIAL REFORM

“We need a bold, new, positive vision for the future of our country - a vision of a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.

“If we’re going to govern in the interests of the whole country, we cannot become defined exclusively by the process of our withdrawal from the EU.

“That is an important job and we’re going to get it done. But we also need a government that will deliver serious social reform - and make ours a country that truly works for everyone.”

AT THE SERVICE OF ORDINARY WORKING PEOPLE

“The Conservative Party will put itself - completely, absolutely, unequivocally - at the service of ordinary, working people. It is why we will make Britain a country that works for everyone.

“In the coming weeks, I will set out my plans to take our economy through this period of uncertainty, to get the economy growing strongly across all parts of the country, to deal with Britain’s long-standing productivity problem, to create more well-paid jobs, to negotiate the best terms for Britain’s departure from the European Union - and to forge a new role for ourselves in the world.

“But today I want to talk about my plans to reform the economy so that it really does work for everyone. Because it is apparent to anybody who is in touch with the real world that people do not feel our economy works that way at all.” 

BREXIT MEANS BREXIT

“Brexit means Brexit. And we’re going to make a success of it. There will be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it by the back door and no second referendum. The country voted to leave the European Union and as Prime Minister I will make sure that we leave the European Union.

“And I am equally clear about the need for change. I am not going to ignore the public when they say they’re sick of politics as usual. I am going to make sure that the motives of the government will never be in any doubt.

“We, the Conservatives, will put ourselves at the service of ordinary, working people and we will make Britain a country that works for everyone, whoever you are and wherever you’re from.”

ECONOMIC REFORM

“I will start with economic reform. Because for a government that has overseen a lot of public service reforms in the last six years, it is striking that, by comparison, there has not been nearly as much deep economic reform.

“We have to improve the productivity of our economy.”

ECONOMIC FOCUS

“I want to see an energy policy that emphasizes the reliability of supply and lower costs for users. A better research and development policy that helps firms to make the right investment decisions. More Treasury-backed project bonds for new infrastructure projects. More house building. A proper industrial strategy to get the whole economy firing. And a plan to help not one or even two of our great regional cities but every single one of them.”

FOREIGN TAKEOVERS DESIGNED TO LOWER TAX

“A proper industrial strategy wouldn’t automatically stop the sale of British firms to foreign ones, but it should be capable of stepping in to defend a sector that is as important as pharmaceuticals is to Britain.”

CORPORATE BOARDS

“I want to see changes in the way that big business is governed. The people who run big businesses are supposed to be accountable to outsiders, to non-executive directors who are supposed to ask the difficult questions, think about the long-term and defend the interests of shareholders. 

“In practice, they are drawn from the same, narrow social and professional circles as the executive team and - as we have seen time and time again - the scrutiny they provide is just not good enough. So if I’m Prime Minister, we’re going to change that system and we’re going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but employees as well.

HOUSEBUILDING

“We need to do far more to get more houses built. Because unless we deal with the housing deficit, we will see house prices keep on rising.

EXECUTIVE PAY

“Yes, we’re the Conservative Party, and yes we’re the party of enterprise, but that does not mean we should be prepared to accept that ‘anything goes.’

“The FTSE, for example, is trading at about the same level as it was 18 years ago and it is nearly 10 per cent below its high peak. Yet in the same time period executive pay has more than trebled and there is an irrational, unhealthy and growing gap between what these companies pay their workers and what they pay their bosses.

“I want to make shareholder votes on corporate pay not just advisory but binding.

“I want to see more transparency, including the full disclosure of bonus targets and the publication of ‘pay multiple’ data: that is, the ratio between the CEO’s pay and the average company worker’s pay.

COMPETITION LAW

“I also want us to be prepared to use - and reform - competition law so that markets work better for people. If there is evidence that the big utility firms and the retail banks are abusing their roles in highly consolidated markets, we shouldn’t just complain about it, we shouldn’t say it’s too difficult, we should do something about it.”

TAX

“We also understand that tax is the price we pay for living in a civilized society. No individual and no business, however rich, has succeeded all on their own. 

“Their goods are transported by road, their workers are educated in schools, their customers are part of sophisticated networks taking in the private sector, the public sector and charities. 

“It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re Amazon, Google or Starbucks, you have a duty to put something back, you have a debt to your fellow citizens, you have a responsibility to pay your taxes. So as Prime Minister, I will crack down on individual and corporate tax avoidance and evasion.

“It is not anti-business to suggest that big business needs to change.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; additional reporting by UK bureau; editing by Stephen Addison

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