The BrexitersWho Fled Britain
With more jobs shipped abroad by the very people who supported leaving the EU, the Byline Times Team considers which members of the Brexit battalion have moved their residences or businesses to other shores
A Union Jack-clad political project, Brexit is said to herald the re-emergence of Britain as a global power; a country that patriots can once again be proud of. Made great again, so to speak.
Yet it is striking to Byline Times that many protagonists of this national resurrection – the ones who pilloried Remainers as traitors to Britain – have in fact escaped its shores, enjoying the benefits and freedoms of living and doing business elsewhere. Encapsulating, in the most bitter of ironies, the benefits of economic migration.
So, with EU-UK trade talks reaching a climax, and a new relationship with the bloc set to commence on 1 January, let us consider which patrons of Brexit have managed to extricate themselves from the mess they helped to create.
Jim Ratcliffe, Monaco/France
Yesterday, it was announced that Ineos, a firm owned by pro-Brexit billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, will be manufacturing the “British heir” to the Land Rover Defender in Hambach, close to the French-German border.
Ratcliffe pledged last year to build a factory in Bridgend, south Wales, and said his “preference” was for the Grenadier 4×4 to be built in Britain.
In September this year, Ratcliffe – who has amassed a fortune of £17.5 billion – officially changed his tax domicile from Hampshire to Monaco. The latter does not solicit income or property taxes from its residents.
“We can thrive as an independent nation, we don’t need people in Europe telling us how to manage our country,” Ratcliffe said of Brexit in May last year.
Simon Dolan, Monaco
Several of Brexit’s most prominent and wealthy supporters have in fact spent years living and trading elsewhere, often in Europe.
Simon Dolan, for example, an accountancy entrepreneur who recently took the UK to court over its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, has lived in Monaco since 2013.
In 2018, Dolan told the Guardian that he rents an apartment in Monaco for £890,000 a-year. “We left the UK because our home was broken into and Monaco is a lovely, safe and clean place to live,” he wrote.
James Dyson, Singapore
One of Brexit’s most recognisable supporters is James Dyson – owner of the company that bears his name.
In September 2016, Dyson was quoted as saying that firms wouldn’t stop investing in factories in the UK, merely because of the rising costs of trading with the EU.
In January 2019, his company announced that it would be moving its headquarters from Malmesbury, Wilshire, to Singapore.
“We have seen an acceleration of opportunities to grow the company from a revenue perspective in Asia,” Dyson CEO, Jim Rowan, said at the time. “We have always had a revenue stream there and will be putting up our best efforts as well as keeping an eye on investments.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ireland
Leading the parliamentary charge for Brexit has been old-Etonian Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The representative for Somerset North East, who was said to be worth anywhere between £55 million and £150 million in 2016, co-founded the investment firm Somerset Capital Management in 2007.
Though he no longer holds a formal role in the company, Rees-Mogg still owns a 14% stake, held in a blind trust.
Yet, despite Rees-Mogg’s Brexit exuberance, in 2018 the firm set up a new investment vehicle in Ireland – an EU member-state – citing the “considerable uncertainty” of Brexit as one of the reasons.
The company, established with the financial support of pro-Brexit hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, is also managed via the tax havens of Singapore and the Cayman Islands, according to the Guardian.
Paul Staines, Ireland
One notable Brexiter who has benefitted from a distanced relationship with the UK for a number of years is Paul Staines, editor of right-wing blog Guido Fawkes.
Guido Fawkes is not published in England or Wales, its website states. Instead, “the hosting is in the United States of America under the protection of the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
The site goes on to note that “editorial control is exercised by the editor who is not a United Kingdom resident.”
Indeed, Staines is reported to live in Wexford, Ireland.
Nigel Lawson, France
In 2018, former Conservative Chancellor and Brexit advocate Lord Nigel Lawson announced that he would be applying for permanent French residency.
A veteran of Margaret Thatcher’s Government, Lawson had lived in south-west France since 2001 – returning occasionally to participate in House of Lords debates.
However, last year, Lawson revealed that he had reversed his decision, and would instead be selling his property and moving back to the UK, where his children and grandchildren live.
Lawson blamed French “bureaucracy” for the delay in processing his residency.
Michael Ashcroft, Belize
Billionaire Brexiter, former House of Lords member and former Conservative Party deputy chairman Michael Ashcroft has benefitted from non-domiciled (non-dom) tax status in the UK, having lived extensively in Belize – a country he enjoyed as a child and young adult. According to Ashcroft’s 2005 biography, Belize is a country where his interests have been “exempt from certain taxes for 30 years”.
On entering the House of Lords in 2000, Ashcroft promised to become a permanent UK resident. However, 10 years later, the peer admitted that he still retained non-dom status, while the Paradise Papers – published in 2017 – revealed Ashcroft had received payments of around £150 million from an offshore trust in Bermuda between 2000 and 2010.
His spokesperson, Alan Kilkenny, told the Guardian that Ashcroft had never engaged in tax evasion, abusive tax avoidance or tax avoidance using artificial structures.
Ashcroft announced his resignation from the House of Lords in 2015.
Lord Rothermere and the Daily Mail, France
Lord Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere, owns – through inheritance – the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), which gives its name to the newspaper.
According to Private Eye, Rothermere has also benefitted from non-dom status, again inherited through his father, who became a tax exile in Paris in the 1970s.
The Eye also claims that DGMT is tied up in a network of offshore structures in Bermuda and Jersey.
Though it’s rumoured that Rothermere isn’t a great fan of Brexit, leading to a rift with former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, his newspaper has been one of the cheerleaders for the project over the last five years.
The Barclay Brothers, Brecqhou
Two other media barons with a record of offshore gallivanting are the Barclay brothers, owners of the Telegraph and the Spectator – both of which support Brexit.
In 1993, the pair bought the Channel Island of Brecqhou for £3.5 million – which reportedly came with “tax free status” – and built a £60 million mock-Gothic castle.
The Financial Times reports that the pair have in recent years split their time between Monaco and Brecqhou, “using offshore trusts to control their businesses”. The brothers maintain they now live abroad for “health reasons”.
Simon Nixon, Jersey
Simon Nixon, the billionaire co-founder of Moneysupermarket.com, wasn’t eligible to vote in the EU Referendum. But if he has been able to cast a vote, he would have plumped to leave, he says. “I’d have voted to leave because as an entrepreneur you need to be in control of your destiny,” he told the Sunday Times.
In 2013, Nixon moved to Jersey, which is considered to be a tax haven. “I’m in Jersey for at least three months of the year, and as a resident I pay 20% on the first £625,000 of my global income, 1% thereafter. But I still pay corporation tax in the UK as my holiday property company is based there,” he told the Sunday Times in 2016.
Jim Mellon, Isle of Man
According to the Times, Jim Mellon is an “Oxford-educated former Hong Kong hedge fund manager [who] made a fortune investing in Russia in the 1990s.”
Due to his residency in the Isle of Man – another jurisdiction considered to be a tax haven – Mellon similarly didn’t vote in the referendum. However, this didn’t stop Mellon donating a sum in the “large five figures” to the Leave.EU campaign. It also didn’t stop one of his companies from giving £10,000 to the campaign, nor from donating £30,000 to UKIP in 2014 and £70,000 to the Conservative Party from 2009 to 2010.
Despite backing Brexit, it appears as though Mellon bet against the pound in the run-up to the result, claiming he “had a good day” on 24 June, 2016.
Denham Eke, MD of Mellon’s asset management group Burnbrae, previously told the Times that his “interests pay normal tax due in each jurisdiction in which they operate, including the relatively small UK exposure.”
Nigel Farage, Germany
Finally, it is widely known that Brexit commander-in-chief Nigel Farage’s wife is German, and therefore his children also benefit from German-EU citizenship.
Of course, Farage does not speak for his family, though it has been rumoured that the Brexit Party (Reform) leader has himself applied for a German passport. Sources close to Farage deny these rumours. Indeed this may cause a great deal of embarrassment for a politician so fervently opposed to EU migration.