PM Johnson to host bosses for talks amid ‘pingdemic’ anger


Boris Johnson will hold talks with some of Britain’s leading business figures this week amid continued frustration over changing private sector exemptions from coronavirus quarantine restrictions.

Sky News understands that the prime minister will host bosses at the latest meeting of his Build Back Better Council (BBBC) on Thursday.

Issues including infrastructure investment are on the formal meeting agenda, according to insiders, but several of those attending are expected to raise the issue of the COVID-19 “pingdemic” which has threatened to stifle the economy’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

Executives who attend BBBC meetings include Bernard Looney, BP chief executive; Philip Jansen, BT Group’s CEO; Dame Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline; Dame

Philip Jansen Group CEO Pic: BT
Philip Jansen Group CEO Pic: BT

Carolyn McCall, ITV chief; Alan Jope, the Unilever boss; and Cressida Hogg, CEO of Visa Europe.

Sources close to the BBBC said its members received a letter last month from a senior Treasury official signalling that the Council’s work on infrastructure would focus on six areas, including electric vehicle fleets, accelerating the delivery of offshore wind, and “building resilience, creating a dynamic regulatory environment and unlocking investment” in the UK water sector.

It would also examine the role of regulators and focus on “place-based interventions to galvanise growth and level up”, the letter is understood to have added.

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Thursday’s summit will be the third to take place since Mr Johnson established the advisory group earlier this year, which came in the wake of a period of strained relations between Number Ten and the business community.

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‘There’s a pingdemic because there’s a pandemic’

It is also expected to be attended by other senior ministers, with the chancellor and business secretary having contributed to earlier sessions of the Council.

Companies including Balfour Beatty, British Airways and Jaguar Land Rover are also represented on the BBBC.

Downing Street did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s meeting.

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