Fraser Nelson

And the brass neck of the year award goes to... 

And the brass neck of the year award goes to... 
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If there is an award for a brass neck of 2008, George Osborne has just done enough to win in. First, he proposes a tax on the non-doms (which I critiqued at the time). Then, Darling nicks it in his infamous magpie budget. Then, it becomes clear this daft proposal will simply drive away the highly-mobile millionaires resulting in a net loss to the Exchequer. Today Osborne has written an “open letter” to Darling asking him to repeal this proposal for all the harm it will do. A proposal which he was complaining was nicked from him. Of course winning parties tend to have brass necks – and Osborne’s cheek is far preferable to the pusillanimous approach of previous Shadow Chancellors. But what a cheek it is.

A while ago there was loose talk of erecting a statue of Messrs Sarbanes and Oxley in Canary Wharf to thank them for jacking up Wall St regulation and – therefore - pushing overseas listings to London. It would have served as a reminder to politicians that in this world of the uber-mobility of capital, they can do great damage because financiers already live a multi-country existence and do not wait to be whacked by tax or regulation. The City of London has become a little gilded space station, where Japanese come to business with South Africans. Non-doms attract other domiciled, taxpaying business to London – the whole thing stuffs Brown’s coffers with gold. I always believed Brown understood all this (and suspected the Tories did not). But both parties, in the end, proposed taking a carving knife to the Golden goose which is the City of London.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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