June 26, 2018 / 12:25 PM / 10 months ago

UK PM May distances herself from attacks on companies over Brexit warnings

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday companies should be listened to but stopped short of condemning her foreign minister who, according to accounts of remarks at a private event, used foul language to criticize business concerns over Brexit.

The government’s already strained relations with business further soured over the weekend after Boris Johnson was quoted by the Daily Telegraph newspaper brusquely dismissing business leaders’ concerns about the impact of Brexit.

“We want to make sure we are listening to the business voice,” May said at an event hosted by The Times newspaper when asked how she responded to the alleged comments, according to journalists who were present.

“Business is at the heart of how we are going to develop this country,” she added.

On Sunday, two cabinet ministers accused companies of issuing threats and undermining the prime minister by voicing concerns over a lack of clarity on the terms of trade when Britain leaves next March.

In parliament, Johnson said the government was a “passionate” supporter of business but acknowledged he had in the past been critical of some groups.

“It may be that I have from time to time expressed scepticism about some of the views of those who profess to speak up for business,” he said.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison

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