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What a devastating 48 hours it has been for the Chancellor. After defending his wife, Akshata Murthy, over her non-domicile status, Rishi Sunak is now under fire for holding a US “green card” while heading up HM Treasury.
A spokesperson says the couple were “permanent US residents” as recently as October 2021 when the Chancellor was busy running Number 11. Sunak claims to have immediately returned it after using it for “travel purposes”.
As well as filing tax returns on global incomes, green card holders must not abandon the United States as their permanent residence. Sunak lives in Britain and has represented Richmond as a Member of Parliament since 2015.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and ethics adviser Lord Geidt to launch an investigation into whether Sunak had broken the ministerial code by failing to declare his residency in a “huge conflict of interest”.
It comes as the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, called for a review of non-dom regulations in light of Murthy’s financial arrangements. It is not known if Sunak personally saved on his own tax bill.
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The optics (dread word) are dreadful. It will do the government much damage, even if the Chancellor’s defenders complain the criticism of opponents is motivated by spite and envy, although that’s enough about Number 10.
All this is playing out while millions of Britons struggle to make ends meet during the cost-of-living crisis. What a mess.