LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron took the unusual step on Sunday of publishing his tax records to try to end days of questions about his personal wealth raised by the mention of his late father’s offshore fund in the Panama Papers.
Mr Cameron’s initial reluctance to admit that he had benefited from the fund caused a furore, compounding his problems when he faces a huge political fight to persuade Britons to vote to stay in the European Union in a June 23 referendum.
The EU issue has split his Conservative Party, while the government has also been going through a tough patch over a senior minister’s resignation, a U-turn on welfare cuts and accusations it is failing to protect Britain’s steel industry.
After saying on Saturday that he could have handled the fallout from the Panama disclosures better, Mr Cameron released a summary of his tax records for the past six years.
But any hope that this would draw a line under the row was short-lived, as the main Sunday newspapers zeroed in on a gift of 200,000 pounds ($282,500) Mr Cameron received from his mother in 2011, suggesting it may be a way of avoiding inheritance tax.
A source at Mr Cameron’s Downing Street office said the suggestion was inaccurate.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused him of misleading the public by issuing what Mr Corbyn described as four “weasel-worded” statements in as many days before finally admitting that he had benefited from his father’s fund.
Some politicians who are campaigning for Britain to vote to stay in the EU in June’s referendum are concerned that the damage to Mr Cameron is bad for their side, as he has previously been considered the best advocate for an `In’ vote.
“The scandals over David Cameron’s finances ... may tip the decision further towards `Leave’,” said former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Gordon Wilson on Sunday.
Nicola Sturgeon, current SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland’s devolved government, published her latest tax return on Sunday and committed to doing so annually as long as she remains in post.
Her decision could add pressure on other senior politicians to be more transparent about their tax affairs. Labour’s finance policy chief, John McDonnell, had published his tax return in January, challenging Finance Minister George Osborne to do the same. Mr Osborne has not done so.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2016