The European Union’s move to end tax avoiding practices within its member states clashes all too conveniently with Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
The directive, which was presented by the Commission on 28th January 2016 and was adopted on June 20th of the same year, follows the Conservative-led Brexit process with surprising accuracy.
One month after the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive was presented David Cameron announced a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU, and three days after it was adopted the vote to Leave had been cast.
Far from it been at the heart of the British public’s motives to leave the EU, it was undoubtedly at the forefront of the minds of those who were driving the movement.
Executive officials of the pro-Brexit press are all noted tax avoiders, with Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, the Barclay brothers of the Telegraph and Lord Rothermere enjoying non-domicile status in the UK.
David Cameron met with these publications far more than he did pro-Remain titles in the run-up to the election despite publicly backing Remain.
As Nolan Jazimreg wrote here, he is “a classic Jekyll & Hyde example”.
“David Cameron publicly campaigns to remain in the EU but then secretly spends most of his time with people who campaigned to leave the EU.
“Every time the EU undertook momentous actions to end tax-avoidance amongst its member states, Mr Cameron responded by issuing his momentous announcements regarding the British EU referendum”.
In January of 2013, Cameron confirmed he favoured an EU referendum after Brussels produced a concrete action plan to stamp out tax-avoiding practices amongst its member states.
He also made his first push to exempt Europe’s smallest entrepreneurial companies from more EU Directives by requesting from the President of the European Council that it excluded offshore trusts from the directive.
As the Guardian noted here, “David Cameron intervened personally to prevent offshore trusts from being dragged into an EU-wide crackdown on tax avoidance.
“In a letter to the then president of the European council, Herman Van Rompuy, the prime minister said that trusts should not automatically be subject to the same transparency requirements as companies.”
It is perhaps not surprising therefore that within a month of the European Commission presenting a proposal on the anti-tax avoidance proposal Theresa Villiers, Priti Patel, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, and John Whittingdale appeared at the Vote Leave headquarters holding a banner with a slogan “Let’s take back control”.
They have achieved their goals, but at what expense to the British public?