Starmer laughed at by Tory MPs after mouth where his money blunder

PMQs: Starmer challenges Rishi Sunak on non-dom tax status

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Sir Keir Starmer suffered a bitter humiliation as he tried to deliver a scathing attack against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, pointing out how non-dom status has cost the Treasury a staggering £3.2billion every year. But in his attempt to hit the newly-elected leader of the Conservatives with a zinger, Sir Keir appeared to stumble with his word. His stammer had Conservative MPs in stitches. 

Mr Stamer asked the Prime Minister: “Why doesn’t he put his mouth where his money is and get rid of it?”

Dodging the question on non-dom status, a tentative Mr Sunak fired back: “Mr Speaker, I have always said we will have to take difficult decisions to restore economic stability and confidence.

“And my honourable friend, the Chancellor will set that out in a statement in just a few weeks.”

In his very first Prime Minister’s Questions session, Mr Sunak defended: “But what I can say, as we did during Covid, we will always protect the most vulnerable. We will do this in a fair way.”

In a devastating salvo to Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister added: “But what I can say: I am glad, Mr Speaker, that the party opposite the honourable gentleman has finally realised that spending does need to be paid for.” 

“It is a novel concept for the party opposite.

“This government is going to restore economic stability, and we will do it in a fair and compassionate way,” he added.

Mr Starmer then made a pointed dig, saying: “I know he’s been away for a few weeks but he should’ve listened to what was going on in the last few weeks. I have to say I am surprised he’s still defending non-dom status.”

Mr Starmer was referring to Rishi Sunak’s multi-millionaire wife who claimed non-domicile status, which allowed her to save millions of pounds in tax on dividends collected from her family’s IT business empire Infosys.

With the non-dom status, Akshata Murty, who reportedly receives about £11.5m in annual dividends from her stake in the Indian IT services company, avoided paying tax on foreign earnings.

By contrast, UK resident taxpayers would pay a 39.35 percent tax on such dividend payouts. Ms Murty has since given up her non-dom status and now pays British taxes on all her worldwide income.

To make up for his predecessor’s disastrous mini-budget, Rishi Sunak’s Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to impose austerity with a package of tax hikes. 

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The Prime Minister announced he has delayed the Halloween budget by nearly three weeks to November 17 to ensure his cabinet “can reach the right decisions”.

Jeremy Hunt, retained as Chancellor, has warned of “eye-watering” decisions to balance the books after Liz Truss’ mini-budget caused the market to crash and borrowing costs to increase. But he insisted it was necessary for the Treasury watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to make the most accurate forecasts.

In another worrying sign, the Government’s borrowing costs have increased again after Mr Sunak delayed the announcement of the UK’s fiscal plans.

The Treasury said the announcement will “contain the UK’s medium term fiscal plan to put public spending on a sustainable footing, get debt falling and restore stability”.

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