Thank you for contacting me about the proposed merger of Tesco and Booker.
While I appreciate the concerns that have been expressed over the potential move, this does remain a commercial matter. That said, any agreement will, of course, be subject to regulatory approval and receive appropriate scrutiny from the competition authorities.
More broadly, I recognise that independent retailers and local businesses are at the heart of our economy, and I am passionate about supporting them. I know how much businesses value certainty and stability, so I welcome that the Chancellor will stick to the business tax roadmap to 2020. This will mean that Corporation Tax will fall to 17 per cent, by far the lowest in the G20, and the business rates reduction package worth £6.7 billion will be implemented. This will take 600,000 small firms out of the rates system altogether and mean lower bills for many thousands more.
There is, of course, much more that the Government can and will do for retailers. This includes sweeping away yet more burdensome red tape and appointing a Small Business Commissioner which will support businesses in resolving payment disputes. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is also committed through its Industrial Strategy to working with the retail sector to develop a 'sector deal', addressing issues such as developing skills and supporting businesses to start and grow.
Ultimately, the UK has benefited greatly from being an open and free economy. British companies have been successful in attracting investment into the UK and generating the wealth that the nation needs to prosper.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.