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 told ITV News last night that he had owned £31,500 worth of holdings in the company which he sold in 2010. The admission has not drawn a line under the issue however – critics are now asking why Mr Cameron didn't register his interest in the fund in 2005 when he became an MP, and are calling on him to publish his tax return, something he said he would be "very happy" to do in 2012.
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".
The interest in David Cameron's tax affairs was sparked by a leak of 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The files detail the questionable tax affairs of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, relatives of China's President Xi Jinping, the Presidents of Ukraine and Argentina and the Prime Ministers of Iceland and Pakistan. 73% of the public say the leaks were "good for society" – this compares to 46% who said the same of Edward Snowden's leaks.
British people perceive high levels of financial corruption in Russia and China (77% and 72% respectively suspect fairly or very high levels) as well as in the USA (68%). Britain also falls in the lower half of the countries polled for perceptions of widespread financial corruption (61% suspect very of fairly high levels).
Many of the companies set up by Mossack Fonseca to help clients avoid paying tax, both legally and illegally, are based in British Overseas Territories, meaning Britain could technically reform those countries' tax systems even though they have their own elected governments. 31% of British people say this is what should be done, even without the agreement of their governments, while 33% say Britain should try to persuade them to reform their financial systems but should not force them to do so. 16% say Britain should not intervene at all.