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Super-rich prepare to leave UK 'within minutes' if Labour wins election

The super-rich are preparing to immediately leave the UK if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister, fearing they will lose billions of pounds if the Labour leader does “go after” the wealthy elite with new taxes, possible capital controls and a clampdown on private schools.

Lawyers and accountants for the UK’s richest families said they had been deluged with calls from millionaire and billionaire clients asking for help and advice on moving countries, shifting their fortunes offshore and making early gifts to their children to avoid the Labour leader’s threat to tax all inheritances above £125,000.

The advisers said a Corbyn-led government was viewed as a far greater threat to the wealth and quality of life of the richest 1% than a hard Brexit.

Geoffrey Todd, a partner at the law firm Boodle Hatfield, said many of his clients had already put plans in place to transfer their wealth out of the country within minutes if Corbyn is elected.

[...]

On Thursday, Corbyn singled out five members of “the elite” that a Labour government would go after in order to rebalance the country.

He claimed Mike Ashley, the billionaire owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United, was a “bad boss” who exploited his workers through zero-hours contracts. Ashley hit back, telling the Financial Times: “Corbyn’s not only a liar but clueless.”

The Labour leader also named the “greedy banker” Crispin Odey, the hedge fund manager who made £220m betting against the pound in the run-up to the EU referendum. Odey responded by telling the Daily Telegraph: “Luckily they [Labour] can’t even run a campaign, let alone the country.”

The others singled out by Corbyn were: Jim Ratcliffe, the chemicals billionaire who has left the UK for tax-free Monaco; the Sun and Sunday Times owner, Rupert Murdoch; and the Duke of Westminster, who has a large central London property empire.

The shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis went further than the Labour leader, telling the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “Billionaires shouldn’t exist. It’s a travesty that there are people on this planet living on less than a dollar a day.

“There are people, when I walk into parliament, who are sleeping rough on the streets of this country – the sixth-wealthiest in this world.” He also described private schools as “engines of inequality”.

[...]

Corbyn has not set out precisely how he would target the rich, but Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledged to impose a 45p tax rate on those earning more than £80,000 and a 50% rate above £123,000. At present, the highest income tax rate is 45% for those earning more than £150,000.

Labour would also significantly increase capital gains tax and might replace inheritance tax with a “lifetime gifts” levy, with a tax-free allowance of £125,000 – less than half the current £325,000. There are also plans to increase the corporation tax rate to 26%, up from the current rate of 19%.

Corbyn’s plans for workers’ rights, with ideas floated including a four-day working week and giving employees 10% of the shares of big firms, are also of concern to the wealthy.

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