Rishi Sunak dismisses ‘this non-dom thing’ as Starmer attacks tax loophole

Labour leader says rival ‘looks at a petrol pump and a debit card like it just arrived from Mars’

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 26 April 2023 13:06 BST
Keir Starmer accuses Tories of causing a 'self-induced' financial crisis

Rishi Sunak dismissed repeated attacks by Keir Starmer on the tax loophole his family has benefited from as “this non-dom thing” during a feisty exchange at PMQs.

The Labour leader accused the PM of “smiling his way through the cost of living crisis” as he criticised the government’s refusal to scrap non-domicile tax status.

The Independent revealed last year that Mr Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty enjoyed the non-dom status – later given up – which allows the wealthy to avoid UK taxes on overseas income.

Sir Keir also mocked Mr Sunak over the episode in which he appeared not to know how to used his bank card while paying for petrol. “So out of touch that he looks at a petrol pump and a debit card like it just arrived from Mars,” he said.

Referring to the BBC documentary in which Mr Sunak suggested he didn’t have working-class friends, Sir Keir said: “This prime minister is so removed from the country that he boasted that he didn’t know a single working-class person.”

The Labour leader added: “He could scrap his beloved non-dom status. He could put that money back in the hands of working people and get the NHS back on its feet ... Why is he telling people across the country that their taxes must go up, so that his can stay low?”

Mr Sunak responded: “He talks about this non-dom thing. I think he’s already spent the money that he’s claimed he’s raised on five different things. Because it’s the same old Labour party – they’re always running out of other people’s money.”

The Tory leader has refused to end Britain’s controversial non-dom tax status – claiming it would cost too much money to change the rules.

Chancellor Jeremey Hunt has argued that he would rather wealthy non-dom beneficiaries “stayed here and spent their money here” rather than moving abroad.

Sunak says Tories' handling of the economy a 'triumph'

An angry exchange at PMQs saw Mr Sunak hit out at the Labour leader’s “special pensions scheme” after facing accusations that the non-dom status helped his own family’s finances.

Sir Keir reportedly got a special “tax unregistered” pension scheme. But Labour said it was standard practice for retiring directors of public prosecutions, like Starmer.

The PM said: “The rank hypocrisy of it, as we saw last week when it comes to his own special pensions scheme. I said it last week, but I will say it again, it is literally one law for him and a tax rise for everybody else.”

The Labour leader told the Commons: “Here’s the difference: I’d scrap his pension giveaway, whether it affected me or not. He refuses to scrap the non-dom status that benefits him and his family.”

The Labour leader choose to go on the attack over the economy ahead of next week’s local elections, accusing the Tories of being “vandals” presiding over a “low-growth, high-tax economy”.

Sir Keir said: “People are £1600 a year worse off. I’m genuinely interested to know – does he really think everything is fine? Or is he just clueless about anything outside of his bubble?”

He said: “Yesterday [former Tory chancellor’ George Osborne said that the Tory party’s handling of the economy makes them vandals. He’s right, isn’t he?”

Referring to remarks by Ed Balls, Mr Sunak said: “I don’t know if he saw the remarks of a former Labour shadow chancellor yesterday, who said our country had faced four once-in-a-century shocks, threats to our economy, and the fact that we have come through it is a triumph.”

Sunak has claimed Labour leader Sir Keir’s “record on women is questionable at best” as he mocked his comments on the trans issue. “Before Labour do start preaching about this issue, they should work out the answer to one very simple question: I’m certain what a woman is, is he?”

Sir Keir was recently asked by whether women can have male genitals, replying: “For 99.9 per cent of women, it is completely biological ... and of course, they haven’t got a penis.” Mr Sunak said 100 per cent of women do not have penises.

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