Senior Tories revelled in the scrutiny of Jeremy Corbyn’s tax return over the weekend, but have been squirming in discomfort since the spotlight swung back to their own affairs.
Chancellor Philip Hammond was first to get his excuses in on Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show, saying he had “no intention” of publishing his tax return because “this demonstration politics isn’t helping to create a better atmosphere in British politics.”
He added that millionaires should not be required to publish their tax returns because: “That is likely to drive away talent and investors that Britain needs to create the global future that we’re trying to build.”
Next up was Tory MP Kit Malthouse. Surely a member of the Treasury Committee would support tax transparency?
Asked whether he would publish his tax return, he told the Westminster Hour: “No I wouldn’t. I do think there should be some limits on privacy that politicians are entitled to and that’s one of them. We have a tradition in this country of people’s tax affairs being confidential.”
This morning we got rather garbled explanation from Theresa May’s spokesman as to why she would not be following Mr Corbyn and publishing an updated tax return.
He said: “The Prime Minister published her tax return in July as part of the Conservative leadership process and there’s no commitment then and there’s no sort of long-standing convention to publish and no current plans to do so.
“You saw it in July, there are no further plans for the moment.”
And Business Minister Margot James was the latest to have a go, giving “all sorts” of reasons on this afternoon’s Daily Politics.
“I think the Chancellor has got a good point,” she said. “People have all sorts of legitimate and legal arrangements involving their children and other matters of that nature if they’re earning that sort of money and I think we should respect their privacy.”
What ever happened to that David Cameron who thought “sunlight is the greatest disinfectant.”