It is now clear that the Prime Minister has misled the public about his personal involvement in offshore tax avoidance schemes. It took five weasel-worded statements in five days for the Prime Minister to admit that he has personally profited from an undeclared Caribbean tax haven investment deal.
After years of calling for tax transparency and attacking complex offshore tax arrangements as “morally wrong”, the Prime Minister has been shown to have personally benefited from exactly such a secretive offshore investment.
His determination to conceal that arrangement over many years raises serious questions over public trust in his office and his willingness to be straight with the public. It is extraordinary that after pocketing the profits from his offshore investment trust, the Prime Minister was lobbying the European Union against transparency in the ownership of trusts.
Once again the message has gone out that there is one rule for the wealthy and another for the rest of us. Dodging taxes is a moral issue. It is taking money for schools and hospitals out of the pockets of working people.
But the revelations of industrial scale tax dodging and corruption from Panama haven’t just raised issues about the Prime Minister’s personal integrity. They also highlight his Government’s failure to take decisive action to crack down on tax avoidance and evasion.
Government connivance with tax havens and refusal to take serious action against tax avoidance and evasion is sucking tax revenues from our public finances. Tolerance of tax avoidance and tax havens, and inaction on tax evasion, is denying funds to the public purse and leads directly to cuts in services and benefits that are hurting millions of people in Britain.
The Prime Minister has lost the trust of the British people. He must now give a full account of all his private financial dealings and make a statement to Parliament next week. Only complete openness from the Prime Minister, and decisive action against tax avoidance and evasion, can now deal with the issues at the heart of this scandal.