Rebel Tory MEPs didn’t get memo on tax vote

Timothy Kirkhope MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.
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TORIES IN Brussels did not get a memo from London about how they should vote on overseas tax rules following the Panama Papers leak - putting them at odds with the Chancellor’s promise to clamp-down on tax dodging.

Conservative Members of the European Parliament have been described repeatedly as rebels by Labour after voting against a succession of calls for companies in the EU to publish exactly where they pay their taxes.

However Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Timothy Kirkhope said: “[The Government] have changed their position without even notifying us. And I think that is not the way to run things. Our position was we were left hanging out to dry.”

The latest rebellion was in April when two Conservative MEPs voted against the measure known as “country by country reporting” at the EU Parliament despite Conservative Chancellor George Osborne saying the move was a step in the right direction.

Mr Kirkhope, who did not take part in the April vote, claims fellow Tories in Brussels had no idea the UK Government had changed tack on country by country reporting after the Panama Papers scandal.

He said “it would have been much tidier” if the Treasury had discussed their decision.

Ahead of another EU vote on the issue today in Strasbourg, France, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked the Prime Minister whether his party would be united in Europe on tax-dodging.

It is understood Tory MEPs will now vote in favour of the EU tax plan after considering a review by EU Commissioner Lord Hill and changing their group policy to align with Westminster.

Mr Kirkhope said earlier votes had merely shown that “London did not tie with us.”