PMQs Twitter round-up: Panama Papers, tax and the EU

In the first PMQs session since MPs returned after the Easter break, the Panama Papers dominated the questions, but wider issues around tax were also discussed along with the omnipresent issue of the EU.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was flanked by Dennis Skinner - the 'Beast of Bolsover' - who was ejected from the House of Commons by the speaker on Monday for refusing to withdraw his "Dodgy Dave" comment aimed at Prime Minister David Cameron. He did not look contrite.

Corbyn asked if the Government would support an EU measure of country by country tax reporting which, Corbyn noted, Tory MEPs had voted against in the European Parliament.

Cameron said he welcomed the proposal and outlined measure the Government was taking to tackle tax avoidance.

Corbyn then asked, if this was the case, why the Government was reducing the number of HMRC tax inspectors and cutting the agency's budget.

Instead of answering, Cameron used the question to ridicule Corbyn's tax return, which was notable for being both six days late and written in messy handwriting.


But Corbyn had his own quip at the ready, noting that he had paid more tax personally than the owners of certain companies who Cameron might know personally.

Corbyn did manage to force the admission from the Prime Minister that government measures to create a public register of beneficial ownership in the UK would not extend to overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands and highlighted how the premier of the islands had scored a victory over Cameron.

But for some commentators, Corbyn had, once again, missed his opportunity by focusing too much on the detail of tax.

Next, it was SNP leader Angus Robertson's turn to grill Cameron and he used his questions to highlight how the UK is top of the list for financial secrecy. Robertson called on Cameron to tell MPs what action British authorities had taken in the wake of the publication of the Panama Papers.

Robertson then sought to play on inequalities in the collection of tax and the pursuit of benefit fraudsters.

The chamber's sole UKIP MP Douglas Carswell repeated a question that has been asked of Cameron several times since the referendum was announced and received short shrift for his trouble: Would he resign if the UK voted to leave the EU? 

But Cameron was not out of the EU-woods yet, and the genial Jacob Rees-Mogg called on Cameron to explain the true meaning of a pro-EU leaflet sent to every household in the land by the Government.

According to Brandwatch, there were 8,350 mentions of PMQs, with 3,300 concerning the issue of tax, while more than 400 were on the subject of "Dodgy Dave".

Tweets about Cameron were 26 per cent positive and 374 per cent negative while tweets about Corbyn were 57 per cent positive and 43 per cent negative.


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