Jeremy Corbyn dismisses David Cameron’s tax evasion statement as ‘masterclass in art of distraction’

'There is now one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest'

Ashley Cowburn
Monday 11 April 2016 17:33
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Jeremy Corbyn attacks David Cameron's statement in Parliament

Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed the Prime Minister’s statement on tax evasion as a “masterclass in the art of distraction” and accused him of failing to appreciate the public anger following the leaked Panama Papers.

Speaking as David Cameron addressed the House of Commons for the first time since the leak of the cache of documents, the leader of the Opposition said Mr Cameron misunderstood the “scandal of destructive global tax avoidance” revealed in the Panama Papers.

“There is now one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest,” Mr Corbyn said. “I’m honestly not sure Mr Speaker that the Prime Minister fully appreciates the anger that is out there over this injustice.

“How can it be right that street cleaners, teaching assistants and nurses work and pay their taxes yet some of those at the top think the rules simply don’t apply to them.

“The truth is, is that the UK is at the heart of the global tax avoidance industry. It’s a national scandal and it’s got to end.

He added: "What they have driven home is what many people have increasingly felt - there is now one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest," he said.

"I'm honestly not sure that the Prime Minister fully appreciates the anger that is out there over this injustice."

Mr Cameron used his statement in the House of Commons to announce he will bring forward plans to introduce a criminal offence for corporations who fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion

For the first time, companies will be held criminally liable if they fail to stop their employees from facilitating tax evasion. Downing Street said yesterday the law was part of the Government’s effort “to clamp down on corruption in all walks of life”.

The BBC’s Kamal Ahmed, however, earlier pointed out that the policy was first announced by Danny Alexander during the coalition years.

Meanwhile, both the Prime Minister and the Labour leader have now published details of their tax returns, following public outcry over the Panama Papers.

It emerged that Mr Corbyn had to pay a fine for filing his tax return late and it showed that he declared £1,850 of taxable income on top of his Parliamentary salary. But the document - which was handwritten - also showed the date of submission as February 2 2016.The deadline for paper submissions was October 31 and for online submissions January 31.

Returns filed up to three months late attract a fine of £100 - with higher penalties if longer.

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