Tory bore Jacob Rees-Mogg was wheeled out to defend David Cameron’s tax avoidance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (April 11). This was not a great move for the Tories, considering Rees-Mogg himself has ‘form’ when it comes to failing to declare financial interests.
The Honourable Member for the 18th Century lectured us all on the current legal position. According to him, it is that people are entitled to avoid tax.
He seemed to have misunderstood that the prime minister should not be avoiding tax. It presents a poor example to the people of the United Kingdom, most of whom are allowed no legal right to do the same and must submit to the Pay-As-You-Earn system (PAYE).
Rees-Mogg went on to say tax avoidance is a matter of law, not morality. Yes indeed – but when the law is made by people who participate in tax avoidance, because their own riches permit them that privilege, it is also corrupt.
Add to that the fact that these law-makers have used their influence to extend tax avoidance and the situation is not only unacceptable but unforgivable.
Then Rees-Mogg said the Cameron stake in Blairmore was about “sophisticated” investment – again rubbing in the fact that the vast majority of UK citizens are excluded from such matters.
Of course, the Honourable Jacob William Rees-Mogg MP knows all about undeclared interests. He has repeatedly spoken in Commons debates about industries in which he has financial interests, without declaring them.
According to Buzzfeed.com, “The Tory MP for North East Somerset works part-time for hedge fund Somerset Capital Management, for which he is paid over £120,000 a year, in addition to his job as an MP. The hedge fund, which he co-founded, has tens of millions of pounds invested in tobacco, oil, and coal-mining companies.”
Now read this:
Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke in four debates in the Chamber in support of the tobacco, mining and oil and gas industries without declaring that he is a founder and director of a firm with multimillion-pound investments in the sectors.
In a debate on the cost of living in 2013, Mr Rees-Mogg voiced his opposition to subsidies for green energy production without declaring his interest in oil and gas investments, saying: “The priority for my constituents is that they should have cheap energy, not that we should insist on large subsidies for theories that some people find attractive and others do not.”