John McDonnell: May and Hammond refusal to publish tax returns 'bad for democracy'

Posted On: 
7th March 2017

John McDonnell has claimed that Theresa May and Philip Hammond's refusal to publish their tax returns is "a serious concern for democracy".

John McDonnell says Theresa May and Philip Hammond should publish their tax returns.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Shadow Chancellor hit out at another fiery meeting last night of the parliamentary Labour party.

Mr McDonnell and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have both published their 2015/16 tax submissions over the past week.

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But the Prime Minister and Chancellor have both insisted they will not be following suit.

Speaking after the PLP meeting, a spokesman for Mr McDonnell said: "There is a serious concern for democracy in our country, when you have the Chancellor refusing to publish his tax returns and now the Prime Minister is refusing to publish hers, and she only previously published a summary just like George Osborne and David Cameron.

"You now have a level of transparency at the top of the Labour party that you do not have in government, which in the start of the week of the Budget is very, very worrying.

"And this Labour opposition has been more transparent on taxation and our positions on the economy than any opposition in history at this point in the electoral cycle.

"It’s deeply, deeply worrying just ahead of a Budget in which it is rumoured the Tories are going forward with increases in taxation and benefit cuts to some of the lowest paid people in our country, but the continuation of tax giveaways such as inheritance tax, capital gains tax for a wealthy few.

"And yet we have a Chancellor not only refusing to publish his tax return, but is also attacking Labour party policy on transparency at the top of our country.

"The Chancellor is refusing to show the same level of transparency as the leader of the opposition and the Shadow Chancellor and that is deeply worrying."

Mr Hammond told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday he had "no intention" of publishing his tax returns.

"Just for the record my tax affairs are all perfectly regular and up to date," he said. "But this demonstration politics isn’t helping to create a better atmosphere in British politics."

And yesterday, Downing Street said the Prime Minister had "not further plans" to make hers public either.

Mr Corbyn's publication of his own tax return in Sunday afternoon became mired in confusion when his team were initially unable to say how he had declared his salary for being leader of the opposition.

But in a bullish statement yesterday, a spokesman for the Labour leader said it had been properly declared as a "benefit" in accordance with HMRC rules.

The spokesman also launched a furious attack on "media barons" and the Cabinet Office over the way the story was reported.

PLP

Meanwhile, last night's PLP saw Mr McDonnell come under attack for last week claiming that a "soft coup" was underway to replace Mr Corbyn as leader.

He has since withdrawn the claim, and last night told Labour MPs "the thing the Tories most fear is a united Labour party".

But MPs Wes Streeting and Peter Kyle both rounded on the Shadow Chancellor.

A source said: "Wes basically asked how Tories like Major and Osborne are better at attacking the Government and making an economic argument than us - instead we get all the soft coup nonsense."

One MP told PoliticsHome: "McDonnell made this appeal for unity, which was greeted with derision. Plus people were telling him no one knew what our policy on Brexit and economics was. Apart from that, he did great."