POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Is Nigel Farage A 'Tax Avoider'?

21/06/2013 08:05 BST | Updated 21/06/2013 08:11 BST
Getty
UK Independent Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage enjoys a pint of beer in a pub in central London on May 3, 2013. The anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) was celebrating some of its best ever results following local elections which delivered a bloody nose to Britain's ruling coalition. AFP PHOTO/BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The ten things you need to know on Friday 21 June 2013...

1) IS NIGEL FARAGE A 'TAX AVOIDER'?

Is the Ukip leader a tax avoider? A user of tax havens? From the Mirror's exclusive report:

"Nigel Farage opened an offshore trust fund in a plan to slash his tax bill, a Mirror investigation has revealed.

"But he insisted he did not personally benefit from the trust fund he set up in a bid to save thousands of pounds in tax.

"And the UKIP leader even claimed he ended up out of pocket after opening the scheme on the Isle of Man.

"The 49-year-old paid a tax adviser to create the Farage Family Educational Trust 1654 in the tax haven – which he intended to channel funds through... But the former City trader said: 'My financial advisers recommended I did it, to have a trust really for inheritance purposes and I took the advice and I set it up.

"'It was a mistake. I was a completely unsuitable person for it. I am not blaming them it was my fault... [I]t was a mistake because it cost me money. I sent a cheque off to set it up.'"

The Mirror's lead editorial says Farage's "involvement in an offshore trust fund is a hammer blow to the UKIP leader's carefully cultivated "man of the people" act.'

"Mr Farage leaves himself wide open to charges of hypocrisy when he publicly condemns the low tax treatment of Eurocrats yet planned a scheme to avoid tax... With Mr Farage as leader, it is no wonder UKIP is a right-wing party championing policies to benefit only the very richest."

Ouch.

2) THE MILLION MAN PROTEST

First, Turkey; now, Brazil. From the BBC:

"More than a million people are reported to have taken part in protests in about 100 cities across Brazil, the latest in a wave of anti-government rallies.

"Violence erupted in many places and an 18-year-old man died when a car drove through a barricade in Sao Paulo state.

"Protests began more than a week ago over high transport fares but are also highlighting corruption and the cost of next year's football World Cup.

"President Dilma Rousseff called off a trip to Japan to deal with the crisis."

And we thought we had problems with our own 'squeezed middle'...

3) 'USE IT OR LOSE IT'

Ed Miliband continues to fill in his 'blank piece of paper' on policy. From the Telegraph:

"Developers could be forced to build on land they are hoarding or hand it back to communities, under proposals to be outlined by Labour.

"Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, will say companies sitting on land while waiting for the price to rise must 'use it or lose it' under moves to ease the housing shortage.

In a his speech to the party's National Policy Forum in Birmingham tomorrow, he will "suggest that building firms should be fined if they refuse to develop land that has been given planning permission. Councils could also be given 'compulsory purchase' powers to buy back sites that lie empty for years, despite having been approved for development. The proposals will be examined as part of Labour's policy review and could feature in the party's next election manifesto."

4) DAVE VS HIS BACKBENCHERS, PART 78

From the Daily Mail:

"David Cameron is facing a fresh backbench revolt as his MPs attempt to force him to introduce tax breaks for married couples.

"Former children's minister Tim Loughton yesterday introduced plans to enshrine in law Conservative pledges to recognise marriage in the tax system.

"... Dozens of Tory MPs are expected to back an amendment to the Chancellor's Finance Bill, tabled by Mr Loughton to force Mr Osborne's hand.

"Under the plan transferable tax allowances would be introduced for all married couples - and those in civil partnerships - with at least one child under five."

But it's not just tax breaks for married couples - the swivel-eyed tendency on the Tory backbenches want to go much further:

"In a further blow for the Prime Minister, four Tory MPs yesterday sought to introduce an alternative Queen's Speech via Private Members' Bills containing plans to bring back hanging, privatise the BBC, and ban burkas in public. Other proposals include a call to rename the August Bank Holiday Margaret Thatcher Day. The Bills have no chance of becoming law."

Phew...

5) 'NHS COVER-UP' FAMILIES WANT NEW INQUIRY

From the Guardian:

"Families of the children who died at the Morecambe hospital where failings were allegedly covered up by the Care Quality Commission called for a fresh investigation into how much the Department of Health knew about problems with the trust's maternity unit between 2004 and 2012.

"Their demand came after the CQC finally named the three people – former chief executive Cynthia Bower, her deputy Jill Finney, and media manager Anna Jefferson – who were said to be present during a discussion at the health regulator when it was decided to suppress a report that had uncovered critical weaknesses in its inspections of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a shoplifting dog in Kentucky.

6) NICK'S NIGELLA GAFFE

The Deputy PM's 'Call Clegg' radio show on LBC yesterday morning didn't go so well. From the Sun:

"Nick Clegg sparked fury yesterday by suggesting Charles Saatchi's attack on wife Nigella Lawson was 'a fleeting thing'.

"The Deputy PM did not condemn it despite the ad guru, 70, accepting a police caution after being caught on camera... He was asked if he would have stepped in to help TV chef Nigella, 53, as Saatchi grabbed her by the throat in a restaurant row.

"The Lib Dem leader blustered: 'I just don't know. There was this one photograph. I don't know whether that was just a fleeting thing." Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, said: 'It is concerning that his initial comments seemed to minimise what was clearly an assault.'"

7) KEEP THEM OUT

My Huffington Post colleague Jessica Elgot reports:

"Anti-fascist campaigners have called on the home secretary to stop two far-right, anti-Islam activists from America speaking at an English Defence League rally in Woolwich, where Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered.

"Atlas Shrugs' Pamela Geller and Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer, two prominent bloggers who founded the 'Stop The Islamization of America' campaign, gained worldwide notoriety for their anti-Islam subway posters in New York.

"... Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee told HuffPost UK: "I am alarmed that the EDL is planning this type of march in Woolwich... Before we have to pay the costs for the extra policing required for this demonstration the Home Secretary should consider using her discretion to ban these two speakers from entering the country.'"

8) SNP SUCCESS

From the BBC:

"The SNP's Mark McDonald has won the Aberdeen Donside Holyrood by-election.

"It followed the death of the SNP MSP Brian Adam, who died in April aged 64, after a battle with cancer.

"Mr McDonald secured 9,814 votes, while Labour's Willie Young in second got 7,789, meaning the majority was down more than 5,000 on the 2011 result.

"... If the SNP had lost the seat the party would have lost its notional majority at Holyrood."

Meanwhile, the Scottish edition of the Times reveals that first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond "will have five pensions when he retires from frontline politics":

"In fierce exchanges in the Scottish Parliament over future independence, Johann Lamont, the Scottish Labour leader, said that Mr Salmond would have a civil service pension from his time working for the former Scottish Office, one from when he worked at Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as one each related to his roles as an MP, MSP and First Minister."

9) THE GEORGE/JEFFREY DUET?

From the Express:

"George Osborne last night tried to laugh off the embarrassment of being called 'Jeffrey' by Barack Obama... Realising his blunder later, Obama apologised to the Chancellor and claimed to have confused him with US soul singer Jeffrey Osborne, whose hits include On The Wings Of Love.

"After news of the blunder spread yesterday the singer offered to perform a duet with Mr Osborne. He said: 'I was not aware Obama was that much of a fan. Tell the Chancellor when I come over I will have to hook up with him and we will do a duet of On The Wings Of Love.'

"Mr Osborne declined the invitation last night, writing on Twitter: "Jeff, you wouldn't suggest a duet if you'd heard me sing." But sources said he looked 'really put out' at the time. He chose the name George as a boy after being called Gideon by his parents."

10) 'I WAS IN MY HOT TUB'

From the Times front page:

"The Ministry of Defence UFO desk, known colloquially as Britain's X-Files, has closed and released its final batch of classified papers.

"It has spent 60 years looking into little green men over Grimsby and flying saucers over Swindon. But the department responsible for investigating unidentified flying obJects has concluded that alien visitors probably do not exist.

"Among the documents released today were papers showing that the decision to close the two-man department was made after the then Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, was told in 2009 that, 'no UFO sighting reported to [the MoD] has ever revealed anything to suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK'.

"Instead, the documents showed there had been a lot of sightings of Chinese lanterns and a surprising number of people reporting aliens who began their statements with the words: 'I was in my hot tub'."

QUOTE UNQUOTE

"Some 14 per cent of Liberal Democrat Members have now been knighted, which means there are more knights on the Liberal Democrat Benches than there are women. Any more of this and the Liberal Democrat Whips Office will be scouring eBay for a Round Table." - Labour's Angela Eagle, speaking in the Commons yesterday.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From today's Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 39

Conservatives 31

Ukip 14

Lib Dems 11

That would give Labour a majority of 92.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@David_Cameron Huge congratulations to Her Majesty for Estimate's victory at Royal #Ascot - first time ever a reigning monarch's horse has won the Gold Cup

@ShippersUnbound Our cups runeth over! Both Boris and Russell Brand on QT. One of them is a long haired, sex obsessed, narcissistic joker, the other is...

@Brendan__Miller Boris moved 32 times in his first 14 yrs, was largely deaf until the age of 8; and is the 8th cousin of David Cameron #bbcqt #panelfacts

900 WORDS OR MORE

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Tories are fighting for people Labour has abandoned."

Philip Stephens, writing in the FT, says: "A US bomb will not stop an Iranian one."

Culture Secretary Maria Miller, writing in the Guardian, says: "I argued for the arts – and won. We will keep the philistines from the gates."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol