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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5 reader comments

  1. Alan says:

    Given the release of selective aspects of the so called Panama papers whose objective isn’t entirely clear, why should Mr Cameron be held to account? One suspects yet another manufactured revelation whose basis may indeed be factual but whose motive is less than honourable.

    1. Philip says:

      Journalists will have been looking for names of prominent politicians. Cameron’s evidently came up. Since he has admitted getting money from an offshore trust after condemning such behaviour by others, it’s perfectly reasonable for him to be held to account. Your final sentence implies that somehow this has been “manufactured”…I’m not clear why you think that…and the Iceland PM certainly appears to have accepted that this material was genuine. And when someone moves money through secret offshore accounts as Blairmore did, I would have said that their financial manoeuvrings were less than honourable, rather than whoever did the world an immense favour by leaking material showing how the rich dodge tax in a way that most of us have no opportunity. The idea that this material was leaked for motives which are less than honourable, I find extraordinarily odd!

  2. MoreSilentMajority says:

    tax avoidance is NOT illegal. no one wants to pay MORE than legally required, which is what the left seems to be demanding for others (but overlooks on themselves).

    as alan notes, a manufactured revelation. also self serving condemnations by nicola sturgeon about how nasty david is for taking advantage of the law to save money. she particularly condemns tax ‘avoidance’, which like herself, jeremy corbyn and many others, likely including anyone reading this comment, do regularly. married allowance taken – you are avoiding tax. other legal deductions taken? you have avoided tax. charity donations? tax avoidance too.

    it’s tax EVASION that is illegal, it’s not paying a specific tax for which there are no legal avoidances.

    will jeremy, nicola, alex, etc on the left bare all their tax returns from the past and present? they will likely say THEIR taxes are private.

  3. Mick says:

    I’ve noticed there is no publisher’s or printer’s details given on the Government’s EU referendum leaflet. I should have thought, in view of all the current talk about transparency, plus the fact that British taxpayers’ money paid for it, that the public are deserving of having such information made known to them; after all, I, for one, would find it extremely interesting should it turn out that some Government minister owned shares or had some other kind of vested interest in the firm that undertook the contract to produce it.

    I can remember the eleven-million-pounds-plus multi-media advertising campaign, again paid for by the British taxpayer, that the then-government, under Margaret Thatcher, oversaw during the late 1980s in the run up to the Maastricht Treaty, that promised us all kinds of Single Market goodies in the “true internal-barrier-free Europe” after 1992, such as hassle-free travel between the UK and the Continental EU states, which mostly turned out to be pure fiction – indeed, if anything, travel to and from the Continent became even more burdensome post 1992 (ask the many thousands of those who had their vehicles impounded and crushed for falling foul of ridiculously vague customs rules, etc., when disembarking at ports such as Dover!)

    And there are no prizes for guessing which of the big London-based PR and advertising agencies that very likely landed the lucrative government contract for peddling this tissue of falsehoods throughout the media at the time. I know I certainly have my likely candidates as the single most likely beneficiaries of the pot!

  4. Mark says:

    Why is nobody questioning the morality of Cameron and Osborne letting out their London homes for profit while living in No 10/11 at the expense of the taxpayer? Surely such profits should be paid to the government.

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