David Cameron now has a lower approval rating than Jeremy Corbyn – while the Prime Minister and Chancellor are the least trusted politicians on tax avoidance. After Downing Street issued four statements this week evading the question of whether the Prime Minister had ever had financial involvement in his late father's firm Blairmore Holdings – which had been set up to avoid tax – David Cameron finally admitted that he had owned £31,500 worth of holdings in the company which he sold in 2010. New YouGov research reveals David Cameron's approval rating is now at the lowest level since July 2013 and is for the first time lower than Jeremy Corbyn's. 34% say David Cameron is doing well as Prime Minister and 58% say he is doing badly, meanwhile 30% say Jeremy Corbyn is doing well and 52% say he is doing badly.
The poll was conducted before the Prime Minister admitted he had holdings in Blairmore, and one of the main reasons for the shift is David Cameron's decreasing popularity among Conservatives (+71 in January; +44 now) – which may be due to his position on Europe rather than tax avoidance. His lowest ever rating was -31 in May 2012.
David Cameron (23%) and George Osborne (17%) are significantly less trusted to deal with the issue of tax avoidance and tax havens than Jeremy Corbyn (39%). The Prime Minister and Chancellor are also less likely to be trusted on tax avoidance than Boris Johnson (25%), who has previously said ‘people have a legitimate right to minimise their tax obligations if they can’.
Corbyn said that Cameron still has questions to answer about his financial interests prior to becoming Prime Minister in 2010. ‘Day by day a little bit more comes out about the Prime Minister’s tax arrangements, but I still think we need to know what benefit he or his trust received before 2010, why the money was put in an overseas tax haven in the first place – and if there is any tax owed on that period, then of course it must be paid,’ he said.
Corbyn suggested that it was important that people serving in public office were more transparent about their interests. ‘There has to be trust in people in public office. You have to know what they are earning, where it comes from and what influences come as a result of that,’ he said.
‘So if, for example you have a lot of money in an overseas trust and that isn’t revealed to the public then if you start lobbying not to open up the accounts of overseas trusts then it begins to look more than a little odd. So I think we have to have an openness in the transparency about it.’
Asked by Andrew Marr whether political journalists as well as politicians should publish their tax returns, Corbyn said: ‘I think it’s probably a good thing if we move generally in that direction so everybody knows what influences are at play. Money and politics have to be treated with the greatest sense of openness possible so you know what influences are at work on any individual on whatever political or any other decisions they make.’