Prime minister Boris Johnson personally promised a British entrepreneur, billionaire Sir James Dyson, by SMS that he would “solve” a tax issue for the company.
The texts have come out in the midst of the ongoing Lobby scandal surrounding Dyson, involving high-ranking British politicians.
The texts received by BBC News show that Johnson told James Dyson that he would not have to pay taxes on his Singaporean workers if he moved them to the UK during the pandemic to produce medical ventilators.
The PM – Dyson texts pic.twitter.com/NEXl1VCIK3
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) April 21, 2021
Dyson, whose company is based in Singapore, shared with the prime minister that he had already written a letter to the Treasury to find a solution to the extra taxes, but that he was not getting any help from that side.
So Dyson texted Johnson in March last year, ” We’re ready. But no one seems to want us to go through with the move. Unfortunately, James.”
The prime minister replied: “I will arrange it [tomorrow]! We need you.”
Dyson then wrote to Johnson that his letter to Rishi Sunak, the British minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, had still not been answered.
Johnson replied, ” James, I am the Prime minister of Finance and you can be sure that we will support you in anything you need.”
Sunak then confirmed in April that people coming to the UK for coronavirus-related projects would be exempt from possible additional taxes.
Dyson, an inventor best known for his bagless vacuum cleaners, decided to design a medical fan after the British government had called for a “national effort” to get additional ventilators. The machines are used in the treatment of COVID patients in the intensive care unit.
The Dyson scandal comes just a month after a total of seven investigations have been opened into another Lobby scandal. This is about the relationship between conservative politicians and the collapsed financing company Greensill Capital.
A government spokesperson tells the BBC that the reports show that the government led by Boris Johnson “did everything in its power to protect our citizens in these extraordinary times and increase the availability of the right medical equipment.”
But the Labour opposition party calls the leaked reports mind-boggling. “Boris Johnson is now at the center of the biggest lobby scandal in the UK of this century. The ‘Tory sleaze’ has found its way into the political heart, the Prime Minister’s home on Downing Street,” said a Labour spokesman in response to the text messages.
“The prime minister seems to have used the power of his office to give government money to a billionaire friend in the form of tax breaks,” the Labour spokesman adds.”
If this is true, it is clearer than ever that there are double standards: one for conservatives and their friends, and another for the rest of the country.”
“The stench of deception has been around this Conservative government for months. Boris Johnson must now agree to a full, transparent and independent investigation into lobbying and put an end to the tampering by conservative politicians with our taxpayers ‘ money.”