Follow the money! Letter to the editor

Dear West Country Bylines,

Even the Daily Mail has been reporting on the “outside” earnings of Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon. He earned £400,000 a year advising the British Virgin Islands tax haven over corruption charges and has agreed to take on two more weeks of work for that government despite the furore.  Cox was an avid Brexiter in the ERG group .

Boris Johnson tried to shield another fervent Brexiter, Owen Paterson, from facing a vote over illegal lobbying including on behalf of a company which recently moved offshore to the Isle of Man.

The government is keen to appoint Paul Dacre, ex-editor of the Brexit-supporting Daily Mail and owner of a house in the British Virgin Islands, as Chair of the media regulator Ofcom. The Daily Mail recently booted out editor Geordie Greig, presumably for calling Johnson out on sleaze and corruption. He’s being replaced with a Johnson/Brexit fan, Ted Verity.

The Rothermere family are taking the Daily Mail and General Trust into private ownership through their Jersey-registered holding company.

The Barclay brother (one having deceased), ex-owner of the Brexit-loving Daily Telegraph for which Boris Johnson wrote anti-EU articles, has an estimated £7.2 billion in offshore tax havens.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House, is another member of the right-wing Brexiter group and he has over £100 million in offshore companies.

And it is now clear that much of the money for the Brexit campaign came from donors with money in tax havens.

The independent think-tank Demos estimates that up to £186 billion a year are lost to UK tax revenues from offshore companies. Three quarters of the present government’s contracts are with these same companies who have operations based in tax havens.

Many have jumped to the conclusion that Brexit was all about preserving tax havens and, of course, companies who use them almost certainly do not want to be penalised in any way. But maybe it was more a case of Johnson’s promise to get Brexit done and bag a huge majority, allowing the granting of more contracts for these companies without scrutiny of their tax affairs.

In addition, the government has been seeking to change electoral law to allow long-term ‘ex-pats’ (aka migrants to another country!) to donate to election campaigns, something they currently cannot do if they’ve been out of the country for more than 15 years.

Maybe there’s a connection there beyond the unwillingness to pay taxes…a quid pro quo, perhaps?

Mike Temple,

Sidmouth