Theresa May vows to put Conservatives 'at the service of working people'


Theresa May will promise to put workers on the boards of major companies and curb excess corporate pay as she sets out her plan for a Britain that "works for everyone - not just the privileged few".

In the first event of a nationwide campaign to win over Tory members in her bid to become prime minister, Mrs May will say that under her leadership the Conservative Party will put itself "at the service" of working people.

Setting out plans to change the way big businesses are governed, Mrs May will say consumers and workers should have places on their boards.

She will also commit to making shareholder votes on corporate pay binding, rather than merely advisory, insisting that support for enterprise does not mean "anything goes" in the City.

Mrs May, who backed a Remain vote in the European Union referendum, will seek to reassure Leave supporters that she will implement the Brexit vote - and make it work for the UK.

She will also emphasise her extensive Government experience in the Cabinet - something her Brexit-supporting rival Andrea Leadsom lacks.

At the event in Birmingham, Mrs May will set out her desire to address inequality and restore trust in politics.

The Home Secretary will acknowledge the criminal justice system treats black people "more harshly" than white counterparts.

She will also say politicians often fail to realise how hard life is for working-class families.

Outlining her plans to reform corporate governance, she will hit out at the way non-executive directors who are supposed to provide oversight of the way firms are run often come from the same "narrow social and professional circles" as the executive team and "the scrutiny they provide is just not good enough".

She will say: "So if I'm prime minister, we're going to change that system - and we're going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but workers as well."

She will also promise to strengthen "say on pay" rules.

"We're the Conservative Party, and yes we're the party of enterprise, but that does not mean we should be prepared to accept that 'anything goes'.

"As part of the changes I want to make to corporate governance, I will make shareholder votes on corporate pay not just advisory but binding."

The coalition government introduced a law forcing companies to hold legally binding votes on future pay policies every three years, on top of the annual non-binding vote on the packages contained in that year's remuneration report.

Mrs May's plans would involve binding votes on policy and specific pay packages each year.

She will set out three key planks to her strategy for Number 10: "First, we need a bold, new, positive vision for the future of our country - a vision of a country that works for everyone - not just the privileged few.

"Second, we need to unite our party and our country.

"And third, our country needs strong, proven leadership - to steer us through this time of economic and political uncertainty and to negotiate the best deal for Britain as we leave the European Union and forge a new role for ourselves in the world.

"Brexit means Brexit and we're going to make a success of it."

Outlining some of the social issues she wants to address, Mrs May will say: "Right now, if you're born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others.

"If you're black, you're treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you're white. If you're a white, working-class boy, you're less likely than anybody else to go to university. If you're at a state school, you're less likely to reach the top professions than if you're educated privately.

"If you're a woman, you still earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there's too often not enough help to hand. If you're young, you'll find it harder than ever before to own your own home."

She will say that "fighting these injustices is not enough", and add: "If you're from a working-class family, life is just much harder than many people in politics realise."

Mrs May will say: "These are the reasons why, under my leadership, the Conservative Party will put itself - completely, absolutely, unequivocally - at the service of working people."