Britain’s Finance Minister Philip Hammond has moved to quash speculation that the UK could become a tax haven after leaving the EU – despite having stoked the rumours himself in the first place.
Hammond said that there is no intention of lowering taxes far below the European average to remain competitive after Brexit.
His comments to the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ contrast with remarks he made in January which were seen as a thinly veiled threat to use corporate tax as leverage in divorce negotiations.
But in his latest interview, Hammond takes a more conciliatory approach. He tells ‘Le Monde’:
“It is often said that London would consider launching into unfair competition in terms of fiscal regulation.
“That is not our project or our vision for the future,” he says.
“The amount of tax that we raise, measured as a percentage of GDP, is within the European average and I think we will remain at that level. Even after we have left the EU, the United Kingdom will keep a social, economic and cultural model that will be recognisably European.”
Mixed messages and divisions over Brexit have multiplied from the government in London since the ruling Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority in a general election in June.
Hammond, who had campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU ahead of last year’s referendum, is seen as a proponent of a relatively “soft Brexit”, sometimes putting him at odds with cabinet colleagues who yearn for a cleaner break with the bloc.