After three and a half years of acrimony, Brexit has become a reality. One very small but extremely powerful grouping within British society is likely to be delighted that the independence they have long desired has finally been achieved; alongside a variety of fringe ethno-nationalist organisations that long to stop migrants from coming to Britain, the UK’s bloated, regulation-light finance sector and freemarketeers around the world are excitedly looking forward to Capital being able to move in and out without any limitations or oversight imposed by pesky EU regulations.
It remains to be seen whether the EU will use its power to try to scupper their plans although all around the world, those who work for greater social justice and human rights fear that the City of London, with the active support of its allies in the UK government, will move hastily to transform itself into an even more pernicious facilitator of abusive international tax practices, thereby accelerating the race to the bottom among nations on tax, secrecy and regulations.
As the world’s economic elite met in Davos recently to discuss the future of the global economy, a gaggle of international journalists was touring the City of London to find out what Brexit might mean for ordinary people. The Brexit Tax Haven Tour was organised by the Tax Justice Network and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice together with Tax Justice UK, Women’s Budget Group and Womankind Worldwide, taking international press on a walking tour of key sites in the City of London where they heard about the real and imminent threat posed to poorer/plundered and industrialised countries alike by the UK government’s ‘Singapore on the Thames’ strategy.
Speaking at the Bank of England, the Tax Justice Network’s John Christensen explained the peculiar history of this curious institution, which acts as both a central bank and also as a banking regulator, but has done little to counter London’s role as a global money-laundering centre, resolutely ignoring the global risks posed by Britain’s global tax haven network. When considered as a whole, Britain’s network of tax havens and financial secrecy jurisdictions represents the largest and most deleterious tax haven in the world, denying poorer/plundered countries billions of dollars in revenue every year and siphoning away resources urgently needed in all nations for climate change adaptation,