Yo! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe 'scared' by Labour approach

Simon Woodroffe

The founder of restaurant chain Yo! Sushi says the Labour Party's approach to business "scares" him.

Simon Woodroffe, who appeared in a 2004 Labour political broadcast, said he worried that the party had chosen a populist anti-business message.

"What I want our leader to say is 'We want enormous profits, and yes we are going to share them out later, but first of all we've got to make it'."

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said Labour was the "pro-business party today".

Mr Woodroffe, who has donated to Conservative MP Oliver Letwin since endorsing Labour, is the latest businessman to question the Labour Party's attitude to business.

At the weekend, when Boots boss Stefano Pessina was asked what he thought would happen if there were a Labour government, he said: "If they acted as they speak, it would be a catastrophe."

On Sky News on Monday, Ed Miliband hit back.

'Fat cats'

He said "people at the top" needed to show responsibility by paying taxes and he wouldn't take criticism from a "tax exile from Monaco".

Mr Miliband said: "I don't think people in Britain are going to take kindly to being lectured by someone who is avoiding his taxes, on how they should be voting in the UK general election."

Mr Woodroffe told Newsnight on Tuesday: "What I worry about with Ed Miliband is that he is appealing to the popular by saying 'look at these fat cats' making lots of money, it should be for the workers.

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Media captionEd Balls: ''We are the centre ground pro-business party today''

"Actually I think the fat cats, generally, sometimes it annoys me, but they pay their taxes, you know.

"Actually they are paying over 50% a lot of the time with this new cap on national insurance.

"And the world is right as it is. And we need to get on as a country, UK PLC, and make lots of money, be very successful. And do things."

'Good management'

Asked what he thought of Labour's current approach to business, Mr Woodroffe said: "You know it scares me.

"I was a Labour Party supporter during the Blair-Brown thing, and I was a supporter because I am a believer that politics needs to make money, that UK PLC needs to be a profitable business and I thought they were a good management team.

"So that's what I'm looking for, now I'm not from the homelands of Labour, I'm not even from the homelands of the Conservatives.

"But I want somebody who really appreciates that business has got to succeed first before we can share out the money."

Speaking on the same programme, shadow chancellor Ed Balls dismissed Mr Pessina's criticism of his party.

He said some business leaders supported the Conservatives, some backed Labour, and "most business people are in the centre ground".

He described Labour as the party of the national minimum wage and a publicly funded NHS, adding, "but we won't [be able to] do that unless we have a strong and thriving business community in our country".

Labour would "keep us in the European Union, not lurch off to the extremes where you say that we're going to potentially leave Europe and take us back to a 1930s level of public spending", the shadow chancellor vowed.

Additional reporting by Jess Brammar

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