Welcome to my day: 11 April 2022 – they seek him here, they seek him there, that damned elusive Rishi Sunak…

So, who leaked the information that Rishi Sunak had retained a US Green Card up until last year? Or that his wife, Akshata Murty, was non-domiciled for tax purposes? Was it a Labour supporter within Downing Street, as originally suggested (unlikely but not impossible, I guess), or someone from the Number 10 dirty tricks team?

However the information has reached the public domain, it’s certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons. Conservative Home readers have put him in their bottom three in terms of approval ratings (+7.4%) which, given that he was second in August, with a net approval rating of +74.5%, is either a sign of how fickle Conservatives are, or that he’s a fairweather Chancellor, capable of looking generous when there’s little choice to be anything else, but poor when hard political choices are necessary. Actually, I’d suggest that it’s both.

I would argue that Akshata Murty’s tax affairs are a matter between Ms Murty and HM Revenue & Customs and that, as long as the latter are persuaded, it’s not really our business. Yes, transparency is important, and it is entirely reasonable that any of her interests which might offer a conflict of interest for her husband should be declared. And, as even Parish Councillors have to include their spouses on their register of interests form, it would seem improper for Rishi not to adhere to the same standard.

And what is this about Rishi Sunak’s Green Card? Applying for one isn’t, in itself, an issue, but holding on to it after election to Parliament is a sign of rather poor judgement. And the US Government may have some questions to ask next time Rishi heads for the Santa Monica apartment.

As for obligatory publication of the tax returns of politicians, I’m not so keen. Is it only for those who get elected, or for those who wish to be elected? And does that make the information a weapon in the hands of political opponents who can safely assume that public understanding of tax law and the difference between avoidance (legal) and evasion (illegal) is slight at best?

If there is a campaign to be had, it would be to insist on far greater levels of tax transparency in the United Kingdom’s various dependencies – published share registers, ultimate ownership, that sort of thing. Too much “hot money” passes through our country to allow us to claim that our hands are clean.

Elsewhere, a parade of European political leaders have passed through Kyiv, including our Prime Minister. I can’t get excited about his supposed bravery – the Russians are long gone from that theatre of conflict – but at least his stance of offering as much support as he can without direct intervention is in line with public opinion here.

And so, another week starts here. Parliament is in recess in anticipation of a hectic final week before the Queen’s Speech, scheduled for 10 May, but with local elections just twenty-four days away, and still more Conservative misdeeds emerging, it’s not going to be quiet…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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9 Comments

  • Peter Martin 11th Apr '22 - 9:19am

    “I would argue that Akshata Murty’s tax affairs are a matter between Ms Murty and HM Revenue & Customs and that, as long as the latter are persuaded, it’s not really our business. ”

    No doubt Rishi Sunak would agree too. The problem is that Mr Sunak is in charge of setting all taxation rates plus rules and regulations on details of the operation of such schemes as ‘no-dom’. He could halve or double any fees, for example. He could extend the period from its present 15 years or even scrap it altogether.

    An alternative view is that the tax status of his wife and immediate family is, therefore, our business. The system needs to be fully transparent.

  • Helen Dudden 11th Apr '22 - 11:02am

    When anyone works in the Public Sector they are open to scrutiny.
    In the past many year’s ago, I worked within Teacher Staffing, any past and present Teaching Staff understand how the system works.
    I do feel that in the Public Sector it has to be transparent and not an open Banking account

  • David Langshaw 11th Apr '22 - 11:43am

    Sorry if I sound a bit UKIPpy, but it It seems to me that the Lib Dems are attacking the wrong target here. I don’t care how much money the Sunaks have, or how much tax they pay – what irritates me is their obvious lack of personal interest in Britain’s long-term future. Someone whose wife says she intends eventually to relocate to India, whilst at the same time he has a Green Card which pre-supposes an intention of becoming a US citizen, doesn’t strike me as someone whose future is bound up with mine as a citizen of this country. For this reason he is not fit to be an MP. That’s a much more powerful message than an objection to some of the more technical aspects of tax legislation.

  • David Goble 12th Apr '22 - 9:17am

    I must admit that I am exercised by Rishi Sunak’s holding of a Green Card, which I have read, pre-supposes a wish to live in the good ol’ US of A! Did Mr Sunak hold this Green Card when he was elected as an MP? If so, does this not indicate that his interests are not wholly with the UK? In that case, he should not have even stood for election as an MP as far as I am concerned!

  • Nonconformistradical 12th Apr '22 - 10:48am

    I agree that Sunak’s holding of a US green card while an MP doesn’t indicate much commitment to our country.

    But the wealth issues do matter – because we have a Chancellor who appears to be living on a different financial planet from ordinary people – the cost of living increases will make little or no serious difference to his ability to put food on the table and if he was short of cash he could always sell one (or more) of his four homes.

  • @David Goble – “I must admit that I am exercised by Rishi Sunak’s holding of a Green Card, which I have read, pre-supposes a wish to live in the good ol’ US of A!”

    You could look at it this way and I suspect many with limited understanding of such matters would want us to believe this, however…

    Basically, the Green Card gives the holder freedom of movement and employment, for the duration of its validity, presently 10 years – provided they abide by a few rules. Without a Green Card to legally work (and be paid) in the USA your visa has to be sponsored by and thus tied to either a UK company or a US company. Hence if you are freelancing/contracting and intend to sell your services to companies in the US, a Green Card is a must.

  • The question that Sunak should be asked is why did he think he should be able to retain the right to live and work in the US, while at the same time remove the right of the British to live and work in the EU.

    Utter hypocrisy.

  • Mario Caves 12th Apr ’22 – 10:52pm:
    The question that Sunak should be asked is why did he think he should be able to retain the right to live and work in the UK, while at the same time remove the right of the British to live and work in the EU.

    The right to live and work in the US is the prerogative of the US. Similarly, the right to live and work in an EU country is the prerogative of that country. Neither can be granted or removed by the UK government or by Mr. Sunak – which is as it should be.

  • David Goble 13th Apr '22 - 9:14am

    @ Roland. Thank you for your explanation.

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