Jeremy Corbyn attacked the government’s poor record on tackling tax avoidance today, revealing that UK exchequer is missing out on between £34bn and £119bn in tax – enough to cover the education budget or the NHS.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, he quizzed Theresa May about why the Tories have repeatedly blocked attempts to deal with tax avoidance and evasion, both in the UK and using their MEP’s in Europe.
After addressing the growing scandal of sexual harassment in Westminster, Jeremy Corbyn launched a devastating attack on the Conservative government’s record on tax.
“957 business jets on the Isle of Man seems a bit excessive for any island anywhere and I hope it’s investigated and due tax is collected from those that are trying to avoid it,” said the leader of the opposition, “because estimates of the scale of tax dodging range from 34 billion – which is around the size of our schools budget to 119 billion – which is the size of our NHS budget.
“The Isle of Man VAT avoidance allegations are part of a wider leak from the Bermuda based law firm said to be on a similar scale to the Panama papers.”
The HMRC does take such matters seriously, insisted Theresa May, adding platitudes such as “the HMRC wants to collect tax – that’s its job and it does do so as much as possible.”
But the Labour Leader skewered the PM with more questions about why the Tories keep fighting efforts to combat tax avoidance and evasion by the super rich, both at home and by other countries abroad.
It’s “one rule for the rich and another for the rest of us,” explained Jeremy Corbyn. With inequality and food poverty growing in the UK, the Labour leader asked why Britain’s wealthiest now pay around a billion pounds less in tax than in 2009.
However Theresa May kept dodging questions on Tory moves to scupper dealing with the ultra rich tax evaders and why the HMRC had cut 8,000 jobs, and had to fall back on the increasingly irrelevant mantra that the Tories were still paying off the last Labour government’s debts. – After seven years of below par economic performance and increasing debts – a totally bankrupt argument.
The Labour leader also used PMQs to admonish the Tories over a new HMRC revelation that multinationals avoided £5.8bn in taxes last year – £2bn more than forecast.
The European parliament’s inquiry into money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion, in response to the Panama Papers scandal, has backed up Labour accusations that the Conservative government has been punishing the UK with austerity while allowing the super rich to get away with tax dodging. Last week MEP’s heard how the Tories have repeatedly blocked EU attempts to deal with money laundering and tax dodging by voting against it.
Watch the full exchange at PMQs:
#PrimeMinistersQuestions in full – Leader of The Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn vs Leader of the Conservatives Party Theresa May#PMQs