Saturday, 9 April 2016

Cameron Must Resign as Prime Minister (and Pay Back the Money he Owes Us)

(Photo credit: 38 Degrees)

David Cameron has failed to draw a line under his financial affairs, which his belated admission on Thursday, of previously owning 5,000 shares in Blairmore Holdings, the off shore tax avoidance company that his late father Ian Cameron was a director of, was meant to do.

Cameron suggested in his usual arrogant way that the shares worth £31,500, which were sold in 2010 just four months before he became Prime Minister, is a trifling sum, yielding only around £19,000 in profit. This was a joint holding with his wife, and as in 2010 the threshold for capital gains tax was £10,100 per person, he did not have to pay tax on the amount. He also promised to make public his tax returns (since he became Prime Minister).

This type of off shore fund is only available to the rich, and Cameron’s claim that anyone can invest in them is untrue. £70,000 was the minimum amount allowed for investment in this fund, and it doesn’t stop there, you also need substantially more in wealth to be allowed to invest.

But all of this still leaves many questions hanging in the air if it is true what Cameron has also said, i.e. he or his ‘immediate’ family did not gain from off shore investments. Clearly, that was untrue, as he has now admitted. It has emerged that his father had investments in at least two other off shore funds, based in Jersey. Did the Prime Minister ever have holdings in these companies, or any other off shore schemes, since he became an MP in 2005?

Then is the question of his £300,000 inheritance from his father’s will. The Times Rich List a year before his death, estimated Ian Cameron’s personal fortune was £10 million, but his estate after his death was valued at only £2.74 million. Why the large discrepancy? It could be that some was given away to family members prior to his death, including David Cameron, or it could be that some is still hidden away in off shore accounts. We need to know with full transparency about what happened to this money.

The £300,000 that we know about was just under the inheritance tax threshold, which is plainly why this amount was chosen. Of this we don’t how much came from off shore investments. The main reason for people using these companies is to avoid paying inheritance, income and capital gains tax, because of the lack of transparency. This of course also contributes to higher profits for these investments, as the bottom line is reduced, so more is gained in profit at the expense of the British taxpayer.

Cameron says he doesn’t know how much of his inheritance came via Blairmore Holdings, but if we get all the figures straight, which looks unlikely admittedly, then we could work it out fairly closely I think.

We have heard nothing of where the rest of even the £2.74 million (let alone the £10 million figure) in Ian Cameron’s estate. It seems likely that Cameron’s two sisters and one brother plus his mother would have inherited this money. So when Cameron talks about not benefitting ‘in the future’ from these off shore holdings, will he refuse the money when his mother passes on? I very much doubt it.

Cameron’s strategy now seems to be make a showing of his financial affairs since he became Prime Minister, which may be relatively clean, but what about before this? As leader of the Opposition, an official post, attracting a publicly funded salary and of course as an MP before this, since 2005, again with a salary paid by British taxpayers. Is it just Prime Ministers that are meant not to benefit from off shore, tax avoiding investments, or should this cover all MPs? I think it should. It can’t be right to be taking honest tax payer's money, while simultaneously avoiding paying tax yourself, if you are an MP.  

Then there is the story that Cameron has been instrumental in stopping the European Union from tightening up on off shore funds, demanding full transparency of monies in these accounts. How can Cameron be trusted as an honest broker in tax affairs after the revelations of this week? His creditability is shot to pieces and he can’t be involved in making the rules again.

The opposition parties in Parliament are united in criticising Cameron and his own party’s MPs are showing signs of rebellion. As The Telegraph reports, several MPs have accused Cameron of hypocrisy, in that only two months after he sold his shares in Blairmore Holdings, he sent a letter to all Conservative Party candidates at the 2010 general election, demanding that they rid themselves of any such investments. Pro-Brexit Tory MPs are planning what is in effect, strike action over Cameron’s use of £9 million of public funds on leaflets for the Remain in the EU campaign, threatening to grind government to a halt by voting down all legislation.

All of which leads me to think that Cameron can’t last much longer, unless he changes the habit of a lifetime and comes completely clean over all of his and his family’s financial affairs (including his mother and father) immediately. Fat chance, me thinks. Just go Mr Cameron and stop embarrassing the country, but pay up what you owe us first.

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