People are re-sharing what Boris Johnson said about the super-rich being treated like 'minorities'

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Sunday 10 April 2016 16:30
news

The Conservative party is in turmoil following the Panama Papers revelations that several senior Tories and donors are linked to tax haven networks.

The most high profile name in the document cache was the late Ian Cameron. David Cameron initially said that he had never benefited from his father's offshore company but as more and more questions were raised the PM admitted that he had owned shares in Blairmore which he sold in 2010. Several other details about Cameron's tax payments have since come to light.

The PM has been widely rebuked for perceived hypocrisy on the subject of tax avoidance; the UK is due to host an anti-corruption summit next month and Cameron has been vocal on the need for tax haven reform.

Joining the prime minister in the firing line is Mayor of London and MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip Boris Johnson.

A column Johnson wrote for The Telegraph in 2013 has resurfaced in the growing furore over tax havens, in which he told people to stop "bashing" the super-rich, comparing them to minorities that face discrimination such as homeless people, Irish travellers and ex-gang members, and reminded readers of the contributions the wealthy make to the UK through taxes.

It is my duty to stick up for every put-upon minority in the city – from the homeless to Irish travellers to ex-gang members to disgraced former MPs...

But there is one minority that I still behold with a benign bewilderment, and that is the very, very rich.

Johnson accused "everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Nick Clegg" of bullying "zillionaires" – and said the richest in society should receive "automatic knighthoods" and our "humble and hearty thanks" for their contributions to charity and the exchequer.

He quoted figures which say the top one per cent pay 29.8 per cent of all UK income tax:

These are the people who put bread on the tables of families who – if the rich didn’t invest in supercars and employ eau de cologne-dabbers – might otherwise find themselves without a breadwinner.

We should stop any bashing or moaning or preaching or bitching and simply give thanks for the prodigious sums of money that they are contributing to the tax revenues of this country, and that enable us to look after our sick and our elderly and to build roads, railways and schools.

Johnson has repeatedly refused to condemn offshore bank accounts this week.

In an interview with Channel 4 News the mayor refused to say whether he thought offshore banking is morally wrong, saying that it 'depends' upon their use.

More: David Cameron's tax returns: what the papers have to say

More: Five statements that made this David Cameron's worst week as prime minister - and they were all his own

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