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UK business leaders attack 50p tax rate proposal

High-profile business leaders in the U.K. have attacked plans by the country's main opposition party to reinstate a top rate of income tax if it came to power in 2015.

Twenty-four of the country's most senior business people warned on Sunday that the plan to re-introduce the 50p top tax rate for those earning over £150,000 ($247, 584) announced at the weekend by Ed Balls — the shadow finance minister in the opposition Labour party – would be a "backward step," discourage business investment and would lead to job losses.

London, England.Scott E. Barbour | Photodisc | Getty Images

In 2010, in an attempt to right its finances in the face of the global financial crisis, the then Labour government introduced the 50 percent tax rate for anyone earning more than £150,000. However the current coalition government cut it to 45 percent last April.

Among those attacking Labour's plans in a letter to The Daily Telegraph newspaper were business leaders including the chairman of online supermarket Ocado and chief executive of the footwear retailer Kurt Geiger. One prominent Labour party donor, Sir Richard Caring, was also among those criticising the move.

Another business leader and signatory said the center-left party's plans were "suicidal" and would trigger an exodus of investors like that seen in France after President François Hollande increased the top rate of tax to 75 percent on income earned over a million euros.

Balls defended the move Sunday morning, telling the BBC that the party was not anti-business and the 50p tax rate would only be a temporary measure as a way to reduce the budget deficit.

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