Rishi Sunak was simply misled into thinking his wife’s tax status was irrelevant to his job

Bestinau got that-

They called it “la loi Macron”. In 2015, while still France’s economy minister, Emmanuel Macron passed a law that, among other things, extended a slew of tax benefits for wealthy foreigners moving to France. After Brexit, the regime was further expanded. Several other European countries, such as Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and the Netherlands, all use special tax regimes to lure the rich.

So it’s not surprising that when an ultra-wealthy foreigner like Akshata Murty moved to the UK, she set up her business to take advantage of Britain’s non-domestic regime. She is exactly the kind of visitor these schemes usually aim to attract: wealthy, internationally mobile and coming from an entrepreneurial family. Indeed, if she and her husband had lived private lives and pursued private careers, most people wouldn’t care about how they ran their affairs, as long as it was legal.

Instead, Ms. Murty’s husband, Rishi Sunak, decided to run for public office – not as a local or minor civil servant. He aspired to and won one of the most powerful jobs in the country, controlling the wallet of the entire British state.

It may never have been his intention, but in that role, he raised taxes to the highest levels in 70 years. He has spoken to the country about “difficult choices,” warned of “tough times” and pledged to “tackle aggressive tax avoidance.”

All the while, it turns out, his wife continued to benefit from the most comprehensive and generous tax avoidance scheme of all, a status that explicitly relies on one’s intention to leave the UK at a later date. It was not without reason that the news caused a stir. She has now announced that she will pay UK tax on her overseas income.

Just because she did this doesn’t necessarily mean the outrage will just go away. It may stick because, like Partygate, it hurt people’s sense of honesty and smacked of hypocrisy. Voters will ask how our leaders could possibly talk to the country about following the rules or fighting to pay our Covid debts when they have done the exact opposite.

In response, Mr. Sunak and his allies made a series of claims, none of which addressed the main point. They claimed this was all part of a smear campaign coming from an insecure and jealous No. 10. It could be true. They pointed out that this story was there a year ago and no one noticed. So it was. They said his US green card status had nothing to do with it anyway — and they’re right. But then they claimed that Ms. Murty was unable to relinquish her status of non-dominance without relinquishing Indian citizenship. This was false. And they argued that anyway she plans to retire to India later on. This may have been the case, but it still didn’t resolve the potential conflict of interest for her husband.

Most lamentably, Mr. Sunak complained that his family should be off limits. We can examine him all we want, he suggested, but not his wife—and if this were a purely personal matter of health or faith, it would be quite right. But this is a matter of financial interests, an issue that our entire legal and political system sees as a legitimate public interest. That is why the financial interests of the immediate family are the subject of extensive declarations and rules in the ministerial code.

These systems, in accordance with pure common sense, consider it impossible for a spouse living in the same household to be independent and irrelevant to a conflict of interest. This is why your spouse cannot sign your passport photo, verify your “blind faith”, and cannot be forced to testify against you in court. This is also why, by default, divorce courts consider matrimonial property to be shared, especially when there are children who inherit. In fact, it would be really hard to find a less sympathetic case of, “Leave the woman out.”

Somehow, all this seems to have come as a shock to Mr. Sunak. This in itself is bizarre. Has the Chancellor been living under a rock for ten years? Did he miss the fight over non-dom lords voting on British laws? Didn’t he notice that gentlemen were forced to choose between their tax status and their political privileges? Did he overlook the enormous pressure that brought about change in 2017, when non-dom status was limited to 15 years? How did his widely acclaimed political feelers develop such a cripplingly huge blind spot?

The fact is that at some point in his career, Mr. Sunak and his wife had to make a choice about what kind of power and freedom they wanted to pursue. As super elites, with the world at their feet, they had two models at their disposal.

One is fully consistent with non-dom status. It is a lifestyle to travel the world, maintain strong ties to different places, but only commit to a country provided the financial obligations involved are not too heavy. We have a non-pastoral regime because we recognize that such people have a lot to contribute, but can live where they want and, if we burden them too much, they will leave.

Then there is the other model. This lifestyle involves the pursuit of political power at the highest level in a democracy. It doesn’t mean you have to wear a hair shirt, just earn the middle income and be obsessed with the price of a pint of milk. But there are some basic requirements, one of which is that one half of the household does not claim on a tax form that their stay in the country is only temporary, while the other half publicly preach about its commitment to Britain, how “we” are. are all part of this whole” and then levies taxes on all of us to prove it.

As a reminder, this is what Mr Sunak said in his first major media interview, featuring: Politicsin 2015: “Underline [our differences] is the feeling, ‘we are all Great Britain’. That means we’re all there… What must come first is that we all have one shared identity. That’s British. If you’re going to live here, you’ll have to feel obligated to integrate and adopt British values.” He didn’t add, “Except for tax purposes.”

Most people in this country have no problem with Mr. Sunak and his family being very rich. Good for them. Personally, I have no problem with people avoiding taxes, but the system allows them to.

But even for me, the sight of a chancellor and his wife claiming that they each had a very different relationship with this country, an arrangement that easily allowed them to exercise great political power for minimal tax, was hard to accept.

Politics is about choice and in his arrogance Mr. Sunak thought he didn’t have to choose. He was wrong.

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