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Prime Minister accused of ‘concealment’ of tax affairs on day of Brexit vote and Johnson Grilling


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been accused of timing his much-anticipated tax affairs, with yesterday’s news agenda largely dominated by a grilling of Boris Johnson’s privileges committee and a vote on his new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.

Mr Sunak’s tax files, released at around 4pm yesterday, showed the Prime Minister made just over £1m of income and £3.7m of capital gains between 2019-20 and 2021-22.

He paid just over £1m in UK tax during that period.

Mr Sunak promised last July to make his tax affairs public when he became party leader, which he eventually did in October. Since then, the Prime Minister has not published his reports.

The documents were released just over half an hour before the end of Johnson’s time on the Privileges Committee, which is investigating whether he misled Parliament.

The day’s news was also dominated by the House of Commons vote on the “Stormont brakes” aspect of the Windsor Framework Agreement, the Prime Minister’s way out of the impasse over the NI protocol. Brake ultimately passed 515 to 29 after 90 minutes of debate.

Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted her disappointment at the Prime Minister’s timing. She tweeted: “I wonder why he chose today?”.

This morning she added: “Rishi Sunak’s long-delayed return reveals a Tory tax system in which the Prime Minister pays far less tax than working people who face the highest tax burden in 70 years.

“His latest handout of the richest 1% shows exactly who he’s putting first.”

Liberal Democrat cabinet spokeswoman Christine Jardine said: “After months of promises to release his tax returns, I don’t understand why Rishi Sunak has stolen them while the world is distracted by Boris Johnson’s party grilling.

“Today, people will be much more concerned about the staggering tax hikes that Rishi Sunak has introduced.

“The real truth is that we should judge politicians by their actions, not their wealth. Rishi Sunak will be remembered as a Prime Minister who raised taxes and no amount of distraction from Boris Johnson will stop that.’

Conservative Party leader Greg Hands defended Sunak’s high taxes. When told on ITV’s Peston that the amount the Prime Minister paid in tax – £432,500 in 2021/22 – was around 13 times what most people earn, he said: “We want this country had wealthy people paying high taxes.

“So I think we should be proud that people pay taxes in this country and proud that they fund our wonderful public services.”

Talking this morning with Sky NewsShadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has confirmed that under a Labor government the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Chancellor will publish their tax files.

She said: “The reason we know he got to this point in the first place was because of a row over his family’s ‘homeless’ status and a real concern that he should make sure his family also follows the same tax rules as everyone else across the country.”

She added: “The approach we will take is this [Sir Keir Starmer], as Leader of the Opposition, will declare his tax returns, and that in government the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Labor Chancellor will do so. Because I think it’s about those who are involved in making tax decisions — making these important tax decisions — being transparent about their situation.”

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