John Caudwell, the billionaire founder of Phones4u, has vowed to leave the UK for tax-free Monaco if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister to avoid higher taxes.
With an £1.6bn fortune, Caudwell, 66, is the UK’s 87th richest person, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. He said he and other wealthy Britons would emigrate to escape Corbyn’s proposed wealth tax.
Caudwell, who built his fortune importing and selling mobile phones in the late 80s and early 90s, said a Corbyn-led government would be “a complete fiasco”.
“If Corbyn wanted to start taxing more extensively than already, my appetite or tolerance to pay much more than I’m already paying is not very big,” Caudwell said.
“We’d just go and live in the south of France or Monaco,” Caudwell said in an interview with Spear’s, a magazine aimed at the super-rich. “Why stay here and be raped?”
Labour has proposed a 50% tax rate on those earning more than £125,000 and a 45% rate for those earning more than £80,000.
“Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is not afraid to take on the very wealthiest, committing to the most comprehensive anti-tax avoidance plan ever presented by a major political party,” Clive Lewis, the shadow Treasury minister, said in an article for the Guardian. “We’ll shift the burden of taxation back upwards.”
Caudwell, who owns a £85m Mayfair townhouse, two superyachts, a private jet and a £12m 50-room Jacobean manor house near where he grew up in Stoke-on-Trent, said Corbyn does not understand that increasing taxes will lead to an exodus of the super-rich, who already contribute a lot to society in tax payments.
“What Corbyn never seems to realise is you have got to create wealth in order to spread the wealth out,” Caudwell said. “They don’t seem to understand that if you tax the rich, there’s a level of threshold.”
Caudwell, who earlier this month said he would give at least 70% of his fortune to charity, did not respond to the Guardian’s request to expand on his comments in Spear’s magazine. In 2013, Caudwell said he had paid £253m in tax since 2008, which he said was 66 times more than Google.
The billionaire said his wealthy friends already think he is “a mug” for staying in the UK when he “could easily be in Monaco with my girlfriend and paying no tax”.
In the interview with Stoke Sentinel, he said: “I’ve had to work like hell to get where I am but Britain has been good to me, the people of Britain have been good to me. Why should I feel I can rob them of all that money?”
If he leaves for Monaco, Caudwell, who supports a no-deal Brexit, would follow Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of petrochemicals company Ineos, who is expected to save up to £4bn in tax by moving to the principality.