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Black cab champion comedian Russell Brand warns of damage Uber could do to London

In his latest endeavour to champion London's traditional taxis, comedian Russell Brand met up with black cab driver Courtney Connell to find out how he thought Uber was failing to put money back into the economy.
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Uber has recently been in the news for a slew of attacks on its drivers. In March 2015, taxi drivers in Belgium blocked Uber cars, threw eggs and dragged passengers onto the street. It followed on from similar incidents in Amsterdam, whereby “De Telegraaf” reported masked men attacking Uber drivers armed with brass knuckles and hammers

Paris was also among the locations to dish out violence on Uber drivers. Cab drivers blocked roads, burst tires and burned cars of those who they thought were working for Uber. Singer Courtney Love, who travelling across Paris in an Uber car, was said to be injured in the clash.

London drivers and their supporters have taken a lighthearted approach towards attacking Uber – specifically Russell Brand, who took to making his own video on the subject of “cabbies versus Uber”. He is of the belief that cabbies are sole traders who have poured their money back into the local economy – unlike Uber, which he referred to as a multi-billion dollar corporation, part-owned by Goldman Sachs and Google. Essentially, he argued that Uber skims off all its profits and puts it into foreign bank accounts.

“It’s more money being siphoned out of our country,” he said. “If you get a black cab that money stays in our country, stays in our economy. That’s one clear advantage.”

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He continued: “When you look at it, Uber is just another tax-evading company like Amazon, Starbucks or Tesco. Of course we all use Tesco, Amazon and Starbucks, they’re unavoidable and we’re just human beings.”

But Brits need to be aware, he warned, that once “these people have got us monopolised”, prices could start increasing. He suggested that too many problems were the result of corporations that didn’t pay taxes locally, nor invested in the community. 

Connell said that black cab drivers had never faced competition like Uber before. He added: “How much love has the prime minister and the mayor really have for London if they’re going to allow people not to pay tax?”

He argued that if he were to send money to his family in Barbados, he would get into trouble with HMRC, to which Brand responded: “It’s one rule for them and another rule for us.”

Here’s the video of him talking to Connell:

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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