Jeremy Hunt told James Dyson that he 'should try being an MP himself' during 'awful' meeting

20 March 2024, 12:19

Jeremy Hunt is said to have had an 'awful' meeting with Sir James Dyson
Jeremy Hunt is said to have had an 'awful' meeting with Sir James Dyson. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Jeremy Hunt is said to have told Sir James Dyson that he should try running to become an MP himself if he wants to have a bigger say in government policy.

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Vacuum tycoon Sir James has been critical of the government's economic approach in recent months.

The billionaire entrepreneur has also praised Mr Hunt's predecessor as Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, whose mini-budget precipitated the end of his tenure and Liz Truss' premiership.

The exchange between Mr Hunt and Sir James came during a meeting at the Treasury last week to discuss tax relief for research and development, as first reported by the Financial Times.

A civil service source told the Telegraph that "no voices were raised but Jeremy just pointed out that as someone who used to run his own business, he knows that changing things in the public sector is more complex than the private sector and so maybe Sir James should give it a try and find out for himself."

Read more: Inflation eases to 3.4% in February, the lowest level in two years, down from 4% last month

Read more: UK economy returns to growth after GDP rose 0.2% in January - raising hopes country is on its way out of recession

James Dyson
James Dyson. Picture: Alamy

The source said that the meeting was "courteous", but the Financial Times reported that it was seen as "awful" by some participants.

Sir James has previously said that the UK is not prioritising economic growth enough, and risks falling behind other countries.

Brexit backer Sir James, who claims to have invested £1.7 billion in the UK over the past five years, said that "wealth generation and growth" have become "dirty words".

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. Picture: Alamy

"I’ve always believed that inflation isn’t quite the enemy everyone thinks it is," he added.

“If you’ve got growth, a bit of inflation doesn’t matter. If you get inflation down and kill growth, I think you’re in trouble."

It comes as the UK slipped into recession in the final quarter of 2023, although the economy grew slightly again in January. Meanwhile figures released on Thursday show that inflation is at its lowest rate since September 2021.

Sir James told the Telegraph in December: “I’m disappointed we’re not going for growth. I’ve made that plain.

Is James Dyson so 'pre-historic ' in his views that the UK's competitiveness is 'turning to dust'

“I was hopeful [with Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng]. I thought they were doing the right thing – I’m the only one who did.

“Mr Kwarteng wasn’t raising taxes. He was going for growth, which I think is the right thing. It allows us to pay for things and generates wealth.”

Spokespeople for Sir James and the Treasury both declined to comment on claims about the recent meeting.

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