Beer entrepreneur Karan Bilimoria uses his speech at yesterday’s British Chambers of Commerce convention in Birmingham to attack the Government’s plans for a 50 per cent rate of income tax.

The chairman of Cobra Beer said the new top rate of tax, announced in last week’s Budget, was leading the United Kingdom on the slippery slope to a high-tax society, as it is a “tax on aspiration.”

He told the convention that the 50p rate was “completely ill-thought out” and added: “It is a stealth tax, helping to make the UK one of the highest-taxed nations. It is the start of a downward, slippery, slope which might take this country back to being the sick man of Europe.”

Lord Bilimoria founded Cobra Beer in 1989 and has grown the business to turn over £126 million in 2006.

He is deputy president of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and received the CBE in 2004 for services to business.

(NP270409ICC-8) Picture, NEIL PUGH