LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron fought back Monday against allegations he’s been evasive about his financial affairs, saying other senior politicians should follow his lead and publish their tax returns.
Cameron’s spokeswoman, Helen Bower, said “potential prime ministers” and “those who are in charge of the nation’s finances” should be transparent about their tax affairs. She said Cameron did not believe all lawmakers should have to go public.
Cameron spent several days explaining his relationship to his late father’s legal but offshore fund and resisting opposition calls to publish his tax details before issuing a summary of his recent returns on Sunday.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised to publish his tax returns “very soon.”
Cameron will try to restore his government’s shaken reputation for competence with a statement in the House of Commons later Monday, after days of damaging headlines.
Opposition leaders plan to challenge Cameron over past investment in an offshore account set up by his late father.
Cameron’s father, Ian Cameron, has been identified as a client of a Panamanian law firm that specializes in helping the wealthy reduce their tax burdens. More than 11 million documents from the firm Mossack Fonseca have been leaked to international media, in one of the biggest data breaches in history.
Ian Cameron’s fund, Blairmore Holdings, was not illegal, but revelations about the Cameron family finances have overshadowed the government’s claim that it is committed to closing tax loopholes.
David Cameron, a former PR man with a reputation for sharp political intuition, appears to have been caught off-guard by the issue. His office initially insisted that the prime minister’s financial arrangements were private, before acknowledging that Cameron and his wife had sold some 30,000 pounds ($44,000) in shares in the offshore fund shortly before he became prime minister in 2010.
Finally, on Sunday Cameron published a summary of his tax returns since 2009, becoming the first British leader to do so. The records appear to show that Cameron paid his full share of tax — 75,898 pounds on taxable income of 200,307 pounds in the most recent tax year.
But the document also generated a new round of headlines over a 200,000 pound gift from his mother on which Cameron — legally — paid no tax.
Several other politicians, including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, followed Cameron’s lead and published their tax returns, and more are likely to follow.
There is no suggestion that Cameron or his father, who died in 2010, did anything illegal. But the headlines have served to remind the public of Cameron’s wealth and privilege.
The furor could also have repercussions for Britain’s decision on European Union membership, due in a June 23 referendum. Cameron is the leading proponent of a vote to stay in, and anything that tarnishes his brand could undermine the “remain” campaign.
Cameron has championed greater financial transparency in Britain and abroad, and is due to host an international anti-corruption summit in London next month.