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.
Follow @GaryGibbonBlog on Twitter.