David Cameron has ruled out a Tory administration introducing a so-called Cadbury Law despite describing himself as “heart-broken” at the sale of the chocolate maker to Kraft.
Speaking at a meeting of 350 businesspeople at the Copthorne Hotel in Dudley, organised by the Richardsons, the Conservative leader said erecting trade barriers would be detrimental to the UK economy.
He said: “Like many people here I’ve been to Bournville and seen the fantastic work they do.
“Business plays an extraordinary role in our society and Cadbury is one of those businesses that has taught people how capitalism can have a deep soul and compassion.
“So it was heart-breaking to see it changing its ownership.
“But let’s be frank - we are operating in a globalised economy and you can travel around the world and say to businesses that there is not an anti-globalisation party in Great Britain - even Labour has learned that socialism doesn’t work.
“That doesn’t mean we do nothing.
“We should be working with these companies so that they know that government is on their side.
“But we must not raise trade barriers and close ourselves off to the world.”
Mr Cameron’s comments come after Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman Vince Cable and noted West Midland academic Professor David Bailey of Coventry University Business School both called for the return of the public interest clause in UK law, which was replaced in 2002 by the Enterprise Act focussing specifically on competition issues.
Speaking after Kraft retracted its promise to keep Cadbury’s Keynsham plant open, meaning a loss of 400 UK jobs to Poland, Mr Cable called for changes which would better protect UK companies who find themselves the subject of hostile overseas takeovers.
Prof Bailey has long spoken out on this subject, and has also urged government to consider changes to the tax system to better rewarded long-term share holdings.