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29 Sep 2016 01:43pm

Tax avoidance "an act of vandalism," says Corbyn

“There is nothing more unpatriotic than not paying your taxes. It is an act of vandalism, damaging our NHS, damaging older people’s social care, damaging younger people’s education,” Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday

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Caption: Crackdown on avoidance would protect "good businesses", says Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour leader, buoyed by his recent re-appointment, made his thoughts on corporate tax avoidance clear as he set out his vision for a Britain under a Labour government.

In a notably more confident speech than last year, Corbyn reiterated shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s pledge to create a National Infrastructure Bank, which would fund ambitious plans to reenergise railways, broadband and technology.

“I am not content with accepting second-class broadband, not content with creaking railways, not content with seeing the US and Germany investing in cutting edge and green technologies, while Britain lags behind,” he said.

This investment would be backed by further investment in education, funded by a 1.5% hike in corporation tax. This extra burden on business would allow for a new, reinstated, Education Maintenance Allowance to college students and grants to university students.

His ire was focused on the current government, which he said had turned a blind eye to tax avoidance, and protected the “super rich”.

“They’ve cut taxes for the privileged few sold off our national assets to them, always on the cheap and turned a blind eye to their chronic tax avoidance.

“They’re so committed to the interests of the very richest they recruited Sir Phillip Green into government as something called an efficiency tsar.

“Well, the government might be a bit more efficient if the super-rich like Sir Phillip actually paid their taxes.” 

But, in an apparent move to appease the business community, he made a pledge to “good businesses”. A Labour government would “clamp down" on those that don't pay their taxes and would protect the interests of those that do.

“You should not be undercut by those that don’t play by the rules,” he said.

Corbyn promoted the importance of a united front to a party that has been crippled by divisions since his election last summer. Despite prime minister Theresa May’s insistence that there would be no snap election, he has put the party “on notice”.

“Labour is preparing for a general election in 2017, we expect all our members to support our campaign and we will be ready for the challenge whenever it comes.”

Ellie Clayton

 

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