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Sunday, 24 November, 2002, 14:54 GMT
CBI warns Gordon Brown over taxes
CBI director-general Digby Jones (left) and president Sir John Egan
CBI chiefs are not smiling at government tax policy

The head of the UK's main organisation representing big employers has declared war with the government over taxes and regulation.

As the CBI's annual conference gets underway its director-general, Digby Jones, has warned the politicians that business has had enough of tax increases and red tape.

He estimated that employers had been forced to accept 47bn of tax increases since 1997.

And he said there was growing discontent over Chancellor Gordon Brown's tax policies which were making it more difficult to do business in the UK.

Threat from Europe

Mr Jones warned that companies would be forced to go abroad if the increases continued.

"Business will walk and it will go to India, China and Brazil and it will not come back," he told BBC News Online.

He also warned that a growing number of regulations from the European Commission and the government were threatening the UK's competitiveness.

These included changes to business rates and proposals on redundancy.

Equal pay demo

There is clearly a widening gulf between the employers' organisation and the Labour government.

But there also appears to be a growing rift with unions.

On Sunday, for the first time, a union-organised protest with placards and loud hailers greeted the CBI's director-general.

The union Amicus was demonstrating in favour of equal pay for men and women.

It wants companies to carry out regular "equal pay audits".

But the CBI has argued that this would simply be another burden for business.

Anti-war demo

The CBI conference attracted demonstrators for the first time.

Up to 100 anti-war protesters broke past a handful of security men and rushed into the building with placards saying 'No blood for oil'.

A window was broken during the scuffle, but the demonstrators were moved back outside the conference centre.

They said they wanted to highlight the link between big business and war.

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The BBC's Hugh Pym
"Digby Jones has warned business has been pushed as far as it can"

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20 Nov 02 | Business
20 Nov 02 | Business
17 Nov 02 | Business
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