7 Apr 2016

Present, future and now past – Cameron seeks to head off tax queries

Yesterday No.10 was slapping down all further enquiries about David Cameron and his late father’s offshore interests.

Today speaking to Robert Peston on ITV News, the Prime Minister spun round, dumped the “no more questions” line and poured out some more information.

He decided to answer questions about the past, exactly where No.10 had said he wouldn’t go.

He said he’d held 5,000 units in Blairmore Investment Trust, the business registered in Panama and set up by his father.

He said he’d sold them in January 2010.

He said he’d paid income tax on the dividends but not been liable for capital gains tax because he wasn’t over the threshold.

Asked whether some of the £300,000 he inherited in his father’s will may have come from Jersey, David Cameron said: “I obviously can’t point to every source of every bit of the money and Dad’s not around for me to ask the questions now.”

He defended his father’s reputation and suggested people may have misunderstood the nature of unit trust funds set up after the end of exchange controls for investors wanting to put their money in dollar investments.

Will all that be enough to draw a line under matters or keep the questions coming?

What prompted the change of heart in Downing Street tactics?

People close to the PM say he was simply fed up seeing his father’s face linked to unsavoury business practices, wanted to defend his father and felt he personally had nothing to hide.

David Cameron, of course, is not running for re-election. But he is seen as a central precious asset in the Remain campaign, their biggest single asset.

His allies insist there’s been no polling that jolted him into delayed disclosure but there will be people in the Remain camp praying it closes the story down.

The row over the government’s £9m leaflet drop to the nation’s homes rumbled on. The Leave campaign trotted out Michael Gove to object. There had been some muttering that he’d slightly ducked below the parapet of late.

The Leave camp mutter that the playing field is being tilted in Remain’s direction.

Some mutter about how the result could be queried if it’s a narrow defeat for them. They rage about the use of government money on pro-EU propaganda.

They don’t tend to mention that they’re happy for government money to be spent on their own propaganda when their leaflet to all homes is printed and delivered  next month using public money.

It was notable that Michael Gove slipped a mention of the NHS into the soundbite on Europe he delivered today – it would be better if the money had been spent on hospitals he said. Lynton Crosby warned in an article last month that the debate on Europe might well move on to “connecting” issues like public services.

Fellow Brexit campaigner and former Defence Secretary Liam Fox echoed the NHS line today.

In an interesting article yesterday he warned fellow Leave supporters in the Tory ranks not to go beyond that sort of attack and overstep the mark in their attacks on the government.

He had in mind some fellow Tories who’ve been criticising the government’s record on the NHS to make their case for Brexit

Dr Fox said that such attacks on the core shared beliefs in the Tory Party could make it hard to put the party back together again the other side of the referendum.

He said he thought there was “a 30 per cent or so chance that the Party could ultimately divide on the issue of Europe in a way that it did on the Corn Laws.”

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