20 Jun 2012

PM’s Mexican stand-off with Jimmy Carr

The hour change out here meant the PM was up early this morning and filled his time google surfing and looking up the tax affairs of Jimmy Carr. It wasn’t on the G20 agenda so he was catching up and is now trying to make up for lost time. David Cameron told me in an interview that the Channel 4 comedian was “morally wrong.” He said he’d be googling Gary Barlow’s tax affairs soon too.

As when George Osborne laid into “morally repugnant” aggressive tax avoidance, there are risks that the attackers may find some high profile offenders in their own ranks – prominent Tory supporters, donors, maybe even the odd parliamentarian – who knows?

For now, the government thinks it has done enough to show it is on the side of the angels because it has already announced it is looking into a general anti-avoidance law. It could all look a little different when someone closely connected to the PM is exposed and the PM is invited to condemn/pay back donations/cut off the individual.

I asked the PM if he could 100 per cent guarantee that the 3p hike in fuel duty would be implemented in full and on time in August. You can hear his answer on Channel 4 News tonight, but I don’t think you’d call it definitive.

We’re looking at it, is the spirit of the thing. I’d tell you the exact words but the tape of my interview is in a queue to be played back to London.

We were interviewing David Cameron at the top of the Mexican stock exchange building. It looks across just some of this vast, never-ending city.

Below us was Reform Road, the longest road in the world so they say, but it looked like the longest car park today. All 22 million Mexico City inhabitants appear to be driving their cars at the same time and not with expert training.

You can buy a driving licence in the supermarket here. I saw a car moving at some speed past me in the fast lane and the driver had his arms folded. At red lights, drivers honk after a few seconds and then just run through the red.

Elsewhere, there are signs that the deal to support ailing governments using (EFSF) bail-out money to buy government bonds may not be quite cooked. The Finns have said something defiantly hostile. There’s a key meeting Friday, the EU summit next Thursday as deadlines.

And why’s he here, in Mexico City? David Cameron thinks previous Prime Ministers thought trade missions were beneath them, and that the Foreign Office took a snotty view of these things too.

David Cameron noticed in big international gatherings that other world leaders used the occasion to buttonhole their opposite numbers about trade issues that were niggling at domestic companies. “Why don’t I get a list of grumbles like that to work on?” he’s said to have asked. All that, he’s decided, must change. Mexico is one of the world’s top economies (quite whether it is 10th, 12th or 14th seems to be debated) and moving up the list.

I apologise for the headline but I couldn’t leave these shores without deploying the pun, even if it isn’t strictly accurate usage.

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9 reader comments

  1. Anthony Martin says:

    As PM he should not have had to Google for that info. But, it comes as no surprise that he’s in the dark. It’s called deliberately blinked. Much in the same way as the he and the HMRC are to other corporate tax dodging scum. They’re all in it together.
    Looking at the last 4 decades, its been a catalogue of corruption by the wealthy vermin. The affluent effluent from a cesspit of collusive gentlemen’s club of corruption.
    Any investigation going on into celebrity buddies , *strike*, I mean cronies, is no surprise. They epitomise and, personify the tax dodging clan, while gloating their Royally discredited trophies!
    The PM in Mexico? Perhaps it’s the vibrancy of the BRIC economies that’s making him wither with embarrassment?

  2. paul towers says:

    Channel 4 news stating the INLAND REVENUE are not happy at tax avoidance. Exactly who and what is INLAND REVENUE? INLAND REVENUE has not existed for 7 years. Get your facts correct please!

  3. Paul says:

    Hypocritical really, shame that Gary G didnt ask him about it tonight

    1. Alice says:

      Beat me to it Paul, glad someone else noticed -hope it gets flagged up more widely now!

    2. Gareth says:

      Was about to post the same thing. Why hasn’t this been picked up yet?

  4. Alice says:

    Really interesting report on tax avoidance tonight Gary, thanks. Maybe you could investigate this angle to the story next. It’s strange but so far no-one seems to have picked up on this story from the Guardian yet:

    It needs investigating as if David Cameron’s father did indeed make his fortune, £300 000 of which was passed down to David Cameron, from hedge-fund style tax avoidance schemes, then he should have been more careful about casting the first stone!

    1. Paul says:

      Thanks Alice and Gareth glad that I am not the only one fuming at the audacity of the Posh Conservative elite. As an NHS Employee who has had a pay cut recently this kind of practice is a real insult.

  5. Mudplugger says:

    While not defending ‘aggressive tax avoidance’ of the Carr type (amongst many others), the real blame lies within government itself for setting the tax-avoidance agenda.

    After all, what is as ISA ? It’s a deliberately configured form of tax-avoidance, actively promoted by governments past and present. By flogging the idea of ISAs to lowly-paid folk, the government teaches people that organising your financial affairs deliberately to avoid paying tax on gains is a Good Thing.

    So why then should we be surprised/appalled when folk with lots of money simple take that ‘approved’ principle to a greater level ?

    And the same government also pays out on National Savings and Premium Bonds free of tax – again, an example of teaching people to avoid tax.

    All gains, whether earned or unearned, should be subject to the same standard tax regime. Until the government learns that, we’ll continue to learn those high-profile lessons it is issuing about tax-avoidance and follow them.

    1. paul says:

      Yes I agree. Tho I do have a meagre ISA. What about the proposed changes to offshore tax havens like the Channel Islands that Mr Osbourne promised? Much as I like buying cheap cds (they aren’t that expensive to produce and record producers have been ripping us off for years) I am not looking forward to the total demise of record shops, nor the concept of downloading all of my music collection in future (only to lose ita ll again thanks to a computer virus)

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