Britain’s richest ‘seek to protect wealth from Corbygeddon’
The prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government is leading Britain’s richest to move assets and businesses overseas, according to reports.
Theresa May’s Conservative Party would be on course for its lowest vote share in history at 19% according to a poll in a Sunday newspaper, while Labour would become the largest party by 137 seats.
One in 10 of those prepared to speak on the Sunday Times Rich List said they were planning for what they deemed “Corbygeddon” by protecting their wealth from tax increases on income and inheritance, including moving assets offshore.
Leading the Rich List are the Hinduja brothers Sri and Gopi, the magnates who were said to have amassed a £22 billion fortune, more than £3 billion ahead of David and Simon Reuben.
In third is Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the boss of petrochemicals firm Ineos, who fell from first place after a reported £2.9 billion drop to £18.15 billion.
Mr Corbyn said the Rich List was a “stark reminder of the grotesque inequality that scars our society”.
He added: “Labour will reprogramme our economy, so it stops just supporting a tiny few at the top, and starts to reward the many, who do the work, create the wealth, and pay their taxes.”
The ComRes survey suggested 27% of people would vote for Labour at a general election which would garner the party 316 seats in Westminster, compared with 179 for the Conservatives.
The same poll, of 2,034 people, said Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party would get 20% of the vote and 49 seats, while the Liberal Democrats’ figures stand at 14% vote share and 28 seats, up from 12 at the 2017 general election.
The Sunday Times said one tax expert had helped 10 people worth more than £500 million or more leave the country, while millionaire Alfie Best told the paper he would move his £285 million fortune out of the UK were Mr Corbyn to become prime minister.
“How could I run the risk of leaving money here?” he added.
Meanwhile, Sir Philip Green is estimated to have lost his billionaire status with the retail tycoon’s fortune believed to have halved in a year because of a pension black hole in his empire.
The Sunday Times Rich List has his fortune free-falling £1.05 billion in a year to £950 million.
But the plummet still places Sir Philip and wife Tina at 156th on the list, down from joint 66th some 12 months earlier.
The Arcadia Group – which includes Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – was valued as worthless in this year’s list, as the company copes with a pension debt which hit £565 million.
The couple’s stake in the company was last year valued at £750 million, while the compilers also removed £300 million from their worth to allow the shoring up of the deficit.
With his wealth peaking at almost £5 billion in 2007, it is the first time in 17 years that Sir Philip has not been listed as a billionaire.
Robert Watts, who compiled the list, said he struggles to envisage the tycoon returning to the “upper echelons”.
“Sir Philip Green may have clung on to his knighthood, but we can no longer justify his status as one of the UK’s billionaires,” Mr Watts said.
“This is the first time since 2002 he has not been in that top tier of the UK’s super-rich individuals.”
The devaluation comes after sustained criticism against Sir Philip and calls for him to lose his knighthood.
He was lambasted over the collapse of BHS, affecting 11,000 jobs, 19,000 pension holders and leaving a £571 million in the pension scheme.
The businessman, who sold the department store chain to Dominic Chappell for £1 before it plunged into administration, agreed to pay £363 million towards the deficit.
Sir Philip has also faced a slew of allegations, including of groping a female executive and making a racial slur at an employee.
The Croydon-born entrepreneur denied his behaviour was criminal or amounted to gross misconduct.
Elsewhere in the rich list, Sir James Dyson reached his highest ever position as he prepares to move Dyson’s head office from Wiltshire to Singapore.
The Brexit-backing businessman climbed seven places to become the fifth richest person in the UK, with his wealth estimated at £12.6 billion.
The Equality Trust pledged to write to the 1,000 individuals and families included in the list, calling for them to support higher taxes in “a nation of Ferraris and food banks”.
Executive director Dr Wanda Wyporska said: “In our grossly unequal UK, we are seeing the fabric of society ripped to shreds as the gap between us grows ever wider.”
The newspaper’s list features a record 151 billionaires with a combined wealth of nearly £525 billion, a 9.2% rise on last year.