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Monday, December 25, 2017

UK Ministers go to war with their own government

I am not used to irony on Christmas Eve so this year has been a treat with yesterday's Observer reporting that two senior Cabinet Ministers have attacked their own government for following clearly laid down tax rules in sending demands for money to key Brexit donors.

They say that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have reportedly expressed concerns after prominent leave campaigners who donated large sums to the Brexit campaigns during the 2016 referendum recently received tax demands from HMRC:

The demands from HMRC hinge on inheritance tax rules that require tax to be paid upfront on large gifts. Party political donations, as well as donations to charities, are usually exempt, but HMRC has said that does not apply to individuals who donated to the referendum campaign.

HMRC dismissed the suggestion that the tax demands were evidence of bias, saying it applied the law equally across all donors. Others derided the complaints as pleas for “bungs” for wealthy donors.

Those reported by the Telegraph to have received payment demands in the last fortnight include the banker and former Conservative party co-chair Peter Cruddas, worth a reported £750m, who gave £900,000 to Vote Leave.

The former Ukip donor Arron Banks, who donated £8.1m to his Leave.EU campaign group, told the Telegraph the £2m bill he had received in the past month was the “revenge of the establishment”.

Another who has received a payment demand is Robert Edmiston, a millionaire motor trader worth a reported £440m, who donated £850,000 to Vote Leave and £150,000 to the Grassroots Out campaign through his company IM Group. Lord Edmiston told the Times he had been sent a bill from HMRC for £200,000.

It is understood one remain campaign donor has also received a similar substantial tax bill.

It is up to the individuals concerned to fight their own corner with the HMRC. They are more than capable. Surely it is highly inappropriate for ministers to be implying that their own government is embroiled in some sort of establishment conspiracy to do down those who might seek to challenge it.

The next thing we know they will be standing in Parliament Square with placards calling for the overthrow of our democratic system.
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