Osmond, who has amassed a £350m fortune through businesses such as Pizza Express and Punch Taverns, told The Times that: “Any entrepreneur who has made more than ten million quid is looking at leaving.”
Legendary bookmaker Victor Chandler is one entrepreneur who has already jumped ship. He became the first operator to give his clients tax-free online betting when he moved his entire company, Victor Chandler International, to Gibraltar in May 1999.
Back then British bookmakers and punters were paying nine per cent to HM coffers on their bets – including bets from outside the UK – causing a flurry of bookies to pack their bags and leave the country. To stem the flow, the government interceded and replaced the tax with a 15 per cent levy on top-line profits. But Chandler refused to moved back.
“I wasn’t tempted. Our punters are very volatile. One month you can lose £1m to them, the next month they can win £2m. I can’t afford to pay tax on gross profits, unless it’s carried forward.
“I can’t think of a single good thing that’s come out of the labour government,” says Chandler, who now employs 300 people in Gibraltar, the majority of which are Brits. “Blair was lucky – the economy stood up despite him. But look at the state of the country now: the schools, the hospitals, the police – all a shambles. The government is strangling enterprise by trying to apply EU regulations to the letter and small businesses are choking.”
“The government couldn’t do anything to bring me back,” he says, puffing on a Hoyo de Monterrey cigar – a forbidden luxury in UK offices.
It’s not just entrepreneurs who are abandoning Britain. The blue chips are fleeing, too. Shell, Experian and Invesco have already revealed plans to move to Ireland, which boasts lower corporation taxes.Picture source