John Christensen ■ Brexit Britain: what does the public think about tax haven plans?
In January 2017 Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond and prime minister Theresa May signalled that Britain could deepen its role as a tax haven if it left the European Single Market post-Brexit. Shortly afterwards YouGov, an opinion pollster, published the results of a survey which, after a brief preamble, posed the simple question “Do you think it would be a good idea or a bad idea to compete with the EU on tax?”. Now TJN has always challenged the very notion of so-called “tax competition”, which has nothing to do with competition between firms on prices or quality of goods and services, so we found the question misleading to begin with, but we were dumbfounded by the results published by YouGov when broken down by respondent’s voting preferences:
Was there really a majority of left-leaning (Labour) voters who supported the idea of tax competition against the European Union? And were right-leaning (Conservative) voters massively against the idea? And did UKip voters (the leading supporters of Brexit) really think this proposal for “tax competition” with the EU was a bad idea by a majority of over four to one? Something wrong surely?
So we queried the result with YouGov, and they have reverted to us with reworked data:
While the overall results are largely unchanged, the reworked figures are more intelligible to us, reinforcing the perception that there is strong support among right-wing inclined voters in Britain to adopt a post-Brexit development strategy that has tax havenry and “tax competition” at its core. Left-leaning voters, as might be expected, are significantly opposed to this idea. Supporters of the Liberal Democrats are more or less evenly divided.
The strength of support for entering into a “tax competition” (we prefer the term “tax wars”) with the EU from among the UKIP voters on the far-right and supporters of the current government in Britain explains why they feel they have support to proceed with a tax haven-based strategy that will harm the public finances, economies and social stability of EU member states and of the UK itself. Read more here about how we see Britain’s tax haven strategy playing out in the future.
And finally, have a chuckle with this sublime put down of opinion polling by the ever-excellent political satire, Yes Prime Minister: