Thursday, 24 October 2019

Following the money

There is a popular meme, which has been shared many times over on Facebook and elsewhere, claiming that the reason why so many of the wealthiest in our society are so keen to ‘get Brexit done’ this year is to avoid an EU-imposed deadline on tax avoidance.  It’s been well and truly debunked – whilst it’s true that the EU is not over-keen on tax avoidance, there simply is no specific legislation coming into force in January which Brexit will help people avoid.  The meme retains its currency and potency, however, because it is otherwise so easily believable.  One only has to look at some of the financial backers of Brexit to see people whose whole behaviour is enough to convince anyone that they probably would be venal enough to pursue a course of action designed primarily to help them avoid the application of the same laws as apply to we lesser mortals.
I’m sure that the story in today’s Guardian, highlighting the extent to which the UK (together with its offshore territories) is a haven for money-laundering, corruption and tax evasion will reinforce the belief that those making a personal fortune by gambling and speculating with our money and by avoiding the taxes which should be due on their ill-gotten gains are indeed supporting Brexit for reasons which have nothing to do with giving money to the NHS, controlling immigration, or any of the other spurious reasons that they’ve given.  Taking back control, however, just maybe – but in the generic sense rather than the specific.  Co-ordinated, international action against dodgy dealing doesn’t suit their purposes, but having individual jurisdictions competing on tax and regulation most certainly does.  The EU is a threat to them – not in the narrow sense of specific regulations as portrayed by the meme, but in the generic sense that international co-ordination makes it harder for them to play off one jurisdiction against another.  Maximising competition between jurisdictions is in their interest (which is why they see Brexit as just one step - their real aim is to destroy the EU), and as long as competition exists, a clamp down in one jurisdiction merely encourages them to shift their anti-social activities elsewhere.  Effectively controlling corruption, money-laundering, and tax evasion requires international co-operation and co-ordination, and that, ultimately, is why they’re so opposed to such co-operation.  And I doubt that such co-ordination and co-operation will figure very large, or even at all, in any post-Brexit trade talks.


Simon Neville said...

Useful summary.

Simon Neville said...

A lot in this. As you say, part of the aim is certainly to destroy the EU. Brexit by itself will not accomplish that, but will embolden some very nasty people in many countries.