‘The House of Lords Appointments Commission says that it does not know whether Lord Ashcroft is UK resident. The Cabinet Office and HM Customs and Revenue have declined to answer questions about his status, on grounds of privacy.’
The reality need not be as dodgy as rumour and perception suggest – the reason that there is no official record of Ashcroft’s main residence is that he does not claim expenses for overnight stays in London or travel costs and therefore he does not have to inform the authorities where he lives.
Ashcroft is legally entitled to his privacy, but this decade old issue is a source of embarrassment for the Tories and a focal point for criticism. Cameron looks slightly inconsistent by insisting that Zac Goldsmith pay UK tax in full when no such condition is imposed upon Ashcroft. Fetid secrecy and Cameron’s resilient dissociation create the sense that the only Tory who understands Ashcroft’s exact tax status is Ashcroft himself, which is obviously absurd but the impression exists nonetheless. As Labour’s current populist fad is donkey jackets and “up the workers”, Ashcroft and Cameron should come clean.