Boris Johnson told Sir James Dyson he would ‘fix’ the tax problem
Boris Johnson reportedly promised Sir James Dyson that he would “settle” an issue regarding the tax status of his employees after being approached directly by the entrepreneur.
Dyson, who is based in Singapore’s tax haven, wrote to the Treasury asking for assurances that his staff would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic .
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But a series of text messages seen by the BBC show that the vacuum cleaner mogul then went directly to the Prime Minister asking for his support.
In response, Johnson said, “I’ll fix it.” He later added: “James, I am the first Lord of the Treasure and you can understand that we are supporting you to do what you need.”
The government defended the Prime Minister’s actions, saying, “As the public expected, we have done all we can in extraordinary times to protect our citizens and have access to the right medical equipment.”
Dyson said it was “absurd to suggest that urgent correspondence was anything other than following the rules” and that his company had no benefit from the project.
The exchanges took place during the pandemic outbreak in March of last year, as the government scrambled for additional ventilators over fears the NHS might be overwhelmed.
Dyson said his company spent £ 20million to develop a ventilator, although the product was never needed. He said the company covered all these costs and delayed its own business ventures while serving the “national cause.”
He added that the tech company had not asked for “a penny” from any government for Covid support.
The entrepreneur said he was “extremely proud” of his company’s response to the pandemic and “would do the same again if asked.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also defended the correspondence today, telling the BBC: ‘We were in the midst of a national emergency and the Prime Minister was not doing it for his own benefit, James Dyson was not doing it for his own benefit. was not doing for its own benefit, we were doing it in order to make sure we got these ventilators quickly to make sure we were facing a national emergency and that was a temporary measure.
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The messages emerged amid an extensive lobbying review in Westminster following revelations about David Cameron’s activities on behalf of bankrupt finance firm Greensill.
The prime minister has now ordered an investigation into the matter, while the former prime minister has been invited to appear before the Treasury committee.