All Lincolnshire MPs refuse to publish tax returns

The Prime Minister and other leading Westminster politicians may have published their tax returns earlier this week, but Lincolnshire’s MPs appear to be more reluctant to follow their party leaders.

All seven of Lincolnshire’s MPs were contacted by The Lincolnite earlier this week and given the opportunity to send across their tax returns for the last financial year.

Six of the seven MPs ignored the request, with only Stephen Phillips, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, responding but declining to make any comment.

Karl McCartney (Lincoln), Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), government minister Nick Boles (Grantham and Stamford), Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness), Victoria Atkins (Louth and Horncastle), and John Hayes (South Holland and the Deepings) all failed to respond at the time of writing.

The row erupted following the release of the Panama Papers, which included revelations that the PM’s father Ian Cameron was a director at Blairmore Holdings, an offshore fund founded in the 1980s that avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain.

After initially stating that whether any family money was still invested in the fund was a private matter, Cameron then insisted that he had “no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that”.

Later in the week Cameron told ITV News that he owned 5,000 units in the trust, which he sold in January 2010, four months before becoming PM.

Cameron then became the first Prime Minister to make details of his financial affairs public by publishing a summary of his tax returns.

Other party leaders, the Chancellor George Osborne and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell all subsequently published their records.

Some Conservative MPs now believe that the PM has started a witch-hunt, and have said that some of their colleagues would want to quit the House of Commons if forced into publishing their tax returns.

Despite their unwillingness to disclose their own tax details, some of the county’s MPs have been more willing to speak about tax either on television or on social media.

Here are a few recent examples:

Nick Boles, Minister of State for Skills, offered a passionate defence of the PM on BBC Breakfast, in a heated interview on Friday, April 8.

He said that it was “natural human instinct” for the Prime Minister to deflect the “cacophony of attacks” on his late father.

On the same day, Victoria Atkins, a barrister who specialised in fraud prosecutions before becoming an MP, was invited onto Channel 4 News with former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to discuss issues around tax evasion and avoidance.

She described how the PM had been “completely frank and transparent about his affairs” and that the government is “leading the world” on tax evasion measures.

Screenshot: Facebook

Screenshot: Facebook

And Stephen Phillips, a member of the Public Accounts Committee whose earnings outside of Parliament exceeded £300,000 last year, has given his support to a tax transparency bill designed to open up the tax affairs of multi-national corporations to more scrutiny.