Why are the current cabinet so desperate to leave the EU on 31st October – even to the point of plunging the UK into the chaos of a no-deal Brexit and being in contempt of Parliament? And if they are, why not back May’s deal?
Is it because, as true democrats, they wish to enact the will of the people at any cost? It can’t be that: all the leaders of the Leave campaign made clear that talk of a no-deal Brexit was merely Project Fear. The will of the people was for Brexit, but it wasn’t for no-deal. If that were their motivation, we would be out by now.
Is it because the British public is fed up with 3 years of uncertainty over Brexit and just want to get it over with? No, it can’t be that either, because nothing will end on the day of exit – we will suddenly find ourselves trading without trade agreements with all our key trading partners and a long and uncertain process of negotiating new agreements will just be beginning (from a very weak bargaining position).
Or is it perhaps because of ATAD and BEPS? Let me explain. BEPS stands for Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. When a company wishes to avoid paying taxes, it can take advantage of tax loopholes by artificially shifting profit away from where the business is actually done and into low-tax jurisdictions (tax havens). Thanks to BEPS, many businesses are able to pay minimal or no tax, even on billions of pounds worth of turnover and hundreds of millions in profits. Some firms pay their chief executives more than they pay in tax!
And ATAD is the solution. The developed nations club, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) developed recommendations on how countries should design their tax systems to make them more resilient against profit-shifting and tax income where value is created. And the EU responded by introducing ATAD: the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive.
And the key issue is this: “Member States shall, by 31 December 2019, adopt and publish, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with exit-taxation (Article 5 of ATAD). They shall communicate to the Commission the text of those provisions without delay. They shall apply those provisions from 1 January 2020.”
So if we are not out before 1 January, 2020, tax-avoiders will have to start paying-up. Another 3-month delay would be – for them – a disaster.
So, coming back to the question I started with: why are the current cabinet so desperate to leave the EU on 31st October? Because they are afraid of ATAD. And why with the seeming lunacy of a no-deal Brexit? because of the transition agreement, which would again mean implementing ATAD. And because they can make a killing from the chaos.
Many ardent Brexiteers have taken full advantage of BEPS including: Arron Banks, The Barclay Brothers, Robert Edmiston, Andrea Leadsom’s husband and her brother-in-law. Sixteen of the top 50 European hedge funds or their executives have donated more than £6.5m to the Conservatives, all of whom have funds based in offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Jersey.
And, of course, Jacob Rees-Mogg is one of the co-founders of Somerset Capital, which is managed via subsidiaries in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore.
No wonder they are all so keen on Halloween.