Article @ Morning Star, published 9 April 2016
Thousands are calling on the Prime Minister to step down today after a series of contradictory statements on David Cameron’s involvement in the Panama Papers scandal finally ended in him coming clean.
Mr Cameron was forced to confess on Thursday evening that he had sold his shares of Blairmore Holdings — a tax haven scheme set up by his father Ian — raking in a reported £31,500.
The fund was discovered among the Mossack Fonseca documents leaked earlier this week.
It took the Prime Minister three days to come forward after his office originally claimed his stake in Blairmore Holdings was a “private matter.”
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the PM had “misled the public” and “lost the trust of the British people.”
He said: “It took five weasel-worded statements in five days for the Prime Minister to admit that he has personally profited from an undeclared tax haven investment deal.
“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.
“Once again the message has gone out that there is one rule for the wealthy and another for the rest of us.
“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.”
His words came ahead of an expected 3,000-strong protest outside Downing Street demanding Mr Cameron’s resignation.
Writer Abi Wilkinson, who organised today’s “David Cameron: close tax loopholes or resign!” event, told the Star:
“Though Cameron’s personal tax affairs expose his hypocrisy, the thing that made me feel I had to organise something was the Financial Times revelation about Cameron personally intervening to block an EU crackdown on tax avoidance.
“Now he’s admitted he profited from Blairmore it makes me further doubt whether he can be trusted to fix a system that is fundamentally broken.
“Something needs to change, and we need to at least try to make that happen.”
A petition calling for the Prime Minister to step down over “deception and conflict of interest” reached 30,000 signatures in just over 48 hours.
Celebrities like whistleblower Edward Snowden and pop singer Lily Allen expressed their support for the initiative on social media.
Ms Allen went as far as announcing she too would be standing outside Downing Street today demanding Mr Cameron’s resignation.
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity backed the demo at 11am in Downing Street.
National secretary Sam Fairbairn said the latest debacle shows an “out of touch Prime Minister and a government of the rich in total disarray.”
Pointing to the Peoples’s Assembly’s own demo on April 16, he added: “Mass protests work. Iceland toppled their Prime Minister, now it’s time that we took to the streets and toppled Cameron. Enough is enough, Cameron must go.”
Taxing the PM’s memory
January: Talking to business leaders in Maidenhead, Cameron was clear on offshoring corporate profits: “We need a tougher approach. One of the things that we are going to be looking at this year is whether there should be a general anti-avoidance power that HMRC can use, particularly with very wealthy individuals and with the bigger companies, to make sure they pay their fair share.”
June: Cameron sits on his high horse, denouncing Jimmy Carr as “morally wrong” and “very dodgy” after the comedian was found avoiding tax through a legal offshore scheme.
June: Hosted by Britain, the G8 summit focuses on tax avoidance and tackling tax evasion. Cameron said: “Those who want to evade taxes have nowhere to hide.”
November: Cameron directly intervenes with European Council president Herman van Rompuy, arguing British trust-funds should be exempt from a new EU law clamping down on money laundering. “It is clearly important we recognise the important differences between companies and trusts,” he said.
May: After his BFF Gary Barlow is found using a tax avoidance scheme, Cameron tells ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I am against these aggressive tax avoidance schemes but I am not just against them — this government has taken a huge amount of steps to legislate and toughen the laws and go after aggressive tax avoidance schemes.”
October: Cameron’s Chancellor and right-hand man George Osborne tweets: “Tax evasion is not just illegal it’s immoral. People evading tax should be treated [the] same as common thieves. This agreement helps us tackle them.”
February: The Con-Dem leader defends his tax record on the campaign trail, saying: “No government has done more than this one to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.”
April: As part of their election manifesto, the Conservatives are adamant: “Tackling tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance and tax planning is an important part of our long-term economic plan.”
May: Shortly before the general elections, Mr Cameron used his Twitter account to register that “if you have done the right thing — worked, saved and paid your taxes — you should be rewarded, not punished.”
April 4: No 10 officials argue that tax affairs are a “private matter” after Cameron’s late father Ian appears in the Panama Papers.
April 5: In response to a journalist’s question on the Blairmore company, Cameron quips: “I own no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that. And so that, I think, is a very clear description.”
April 7: The Prime Minister admits he had indeed benefited from the profits made by his and his wife’s shares of Blairmore Holdings, which the Camerons sold off in January 2010, a few months before the general election.