Panama Papers: Jeremy Corbyn says it's "time to get tough on tax havens" as he attacks government's record on steel

James Nickerson
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Jeremy Corbyn Visits The North East
Corbyn will urge the government to tackle tax dodging (Source: Getty)

In the wake of the Panama papers leak Britain has a huge responsibility and it is time to get tough on tax havens, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

As the Labour leader launches his party's English local election campaign, he will say that many of the tax havens are British overseas territories or crown dependencies which need to be clamped down on.

"As the leaked documents show, tax havens have become honey pots of international corruption, tax avoidance and evasion. They are sucking tax revenues out of our own country and many others fuelling inequality and short-changing our public services and our people," Corbyn said in Harlow.

He added: "The government needs to stop pussyfooting around on tax dodging. There cannot be one set of tax rules for the wealthy elite and another for the rest of us. This unfairness and abuse must stop. No more lip service. The richest must pay their way."

Read more: Who leaked the Panama papers?

During the speech, Corbyn also questioned cuts to HMRC. He argued that the government needs to provide extra resources to tax authorities.

“And instead of cutting Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs the government must provide extra resources to the tax authorities to go after those who think they are above the law," he said.

The comments come after 11m confidential documents from one of the world's largest offshore law firms, Mossack Fonseca, were leaked and revealed how the world's rich and powerful have been using tax havens to hide their wealth.

The Prime Minister has come under scrutiny for not doing enough to tackle the problem. Several Tory donors have had links to the UK's network of tax havens, according to the Guardian.

However, last year Sir Eric Pickles said that the government could end up forcing the UK's tax havens to reveal the owners behind offshore companies.

Last year the crown dependencies and overseas territories had resisted pressure from the Prime Minister to adopt public registers.

Read more: Mossack Fonseca data leak reveals how global elite use tax havens to protect their riches

Corbyn also urge the government to "act now to save the steel industry" by bringing forward £35bn of infrastructure projects using British steel.

"The government failed to take action in Europe against the dumping of Chinese steel when other European countries were pushing for it and when the US did," the Islington North MP said.

"This government’s ideological allergy to public ownership is stopping it taking the steps needed to save steel. The government must act now to protect the steel industry. It must take a public stake to guarantee steel’s future and make sure that any financial support brings a return to the public."

Corbyn's speech came after Sanjeev Gupta, the businessman who could potentially save Tata Steel's UK assets, said that Port Talbot can't be saved in its current form.

Gupta's comments come ahead of a meeting with business secretary Sajid Javid. Javid is also due to fly to Mumbai to meet Tata chairman Cyrus Mistry today.

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