Boris Johnson offered to “fix” the tax status of Dyson staff so they could work in the UK to provide ventilators in last year’s Covid-19 crisis – after Dyson sent a text message to the prime minister’s personal phone.
Dyson went on to provide absolutely no ventilators at all. Did his employees still get preferential tax status?
That is just one of the important questions that Johnson didn’t answer during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.
The revelation is the latest development in the lobbying-related corruption scandal that began when former PM David Cameron’s activities on behalf of now-collapsed financier Greensill Capital came to light.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reported that
the PM assured businessman Sir James Dyson that his employees would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic.
Sir James, whose firm is now based in Singapore, wrote to the Treasury to ask for no change in tax status for staff.
But the BBC has seen text messages sent in March 2020 that show Sir James then went directly to the PM, with Mr Johnson replying: “I will fix it.”
She added, in an opinion piece on the subject,
There are thousands of different circumstances in which having those discussions is perfectly valid.
What about however, when the most powerful politician in the country sends a direct message to an influential businessman promising: “I will fix it tomo”?
A good question – and one that Johnson was asked (if not in so many words) by Keir Starmer shortly after midday yesterday (April 21).
He asked: “What is the right thing to do if he receives a text from a billionaire Conservative supporter asking him to fix tax rules.”
Johnson replied: “I make absolutely no apology for doing everything I could to secure ventilators for the people of this country.”
The trouble is, of course, that he didn’t secure any ventilators, despite having fixed tax rules for his supporter.
He said he had done “everything I could” so we may conclude that he did change the rules for Dyson employees.
But – I reiterate – Dyson did not provide any ventilators:
Hang on a minute!#Dyson didn't actually supply any ventilators 🤔
— Dawn Butler MP✊🏾💙 (@DawnButlerBrent) April 21, 2021
So we need to know what Dyson did with the tax breaks his firm received and whether he still benefits from them now, despite not having done what he promised to do.
Or did Johnson lie about doing “everything” he could?
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