Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe (worth £21 billion) is leaving the United Kingdom and the European Union for tax exile in Monaco, depriving the Treasury of up to £4 billion in tax. This is more tax than the entire bottom 40 percent of the British population pay: that’s because none of them pays any tax at all.
To understand why Ratcliffe is leaving, you need only glance at the reaction on social media.
Some people hate him because he’s a Brexiteer:
Dyson Club – the new Bullingdon Club of super rich & super irresponsible Brexiters fleeing Britain. Founder members: Sir James Dyson himself, off to Singapore, & Sir Jim Ratcliffe, fleeing to Monaco (front page of today’s Sunday Times)
Suggestions of other members? #DysonClub
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) February 17, 2019
Some people hate him because he is a supporter of the fracking industry:
Unbelievable. Jim Ratcliffe to leave the UK (again) to avoid a tax bill. Last week, he was desperately lobbying the government to shift the #fracking seismic levels. This week, he’s on the dodge of the tax he owes? #SirShame #DontMessWithTheTLS pic.twitter.com/5QKEZuScxL
— Lady_Claire (@Lady_ClaireUK) February 16, 2019
Some people hate him because he was given the bauble of a knighthood and therefore, apparently, should give up the financial acumen that made him so rich and just accept whatever indignities and constraints the British government wants to inflict on him:
Brexiter billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe should at the very least be required to leave his knighthood at Heathrow when he flees the Brexit Britain he helped dump in the shit
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) February 17, 2019
Some people hate him because money belongs to everyone equally so if you get rich that’s kind of like theft, isn’t it?
Billionaire Brexiteer Sir Jim Ratcliffe to leave UK for Monaco – he made his money off the backs of the ordinary British people but would rather take it with him than give anything back! Greed is one of the 7 deadly sins! Hope you rot in hell! https://t.co/An7XpDMRhw
— Lorraine Surringer (@Lozza61) February 16, 2019
Some people are so stupid they really can’t construct a coherent criticism at all but, hell, that’s not going to stop them Tweeting what they “think”:
The Brexiteer politicians don't care about ordinary people. They only care about multinational CEOs like Jim Ratcliffe who themselves are fleeing the Brexit disaster they pushed onto the British People. https://t.co/8lezBwBQLp
— Femi (@Femi_Sorry) February 17, 2019
Now put yourself in Ratcliffe’s shoes. You’re a self-made man who, through hard work and determination, has built one of Britain’s most successful businesses. (Ineos, Ratcliffe’s industrial and chemicals business, has a turnover of £45 billion and 18,500 employees.) And in return for the value you have created, the employment you have provided and the tax revenue you have generated, all you get is a bunch of chippy socialists and whiny Remoaners accusing you of being selfish, greedy, and unpatriotic.
Worse, though, from the perspective of a value-creator like Ratcliffe, is that both the British government and the EU have made it increasingly hard for him to do business. Ratcliffe’s business has been particularly hard-hit by the rising cost of energy, driven artificially high by the EU’s war on fossil fuels and embrace of costly, inefficient, unreliable renewables.
Ratcliffe set out the problem very clearly in an open letter he wrote last week to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker:
Nobody but nobody in my business seriously invests in Europe. They haven’t for a generation. Everyone in my business does however invest in the USA, Middle East or China, or indeed, all three. The USA is in the middle of a $200 billion spending spree on 333 new chemical plants. China has spent that sum annually for many years, constructing its own chemical building blocks.
Europe, not so long ago the world leader in chemicals, has seen its market share in the last decade alone collapse from 30% world market share to 15%. This is an industry that employs over 1 million people in high quality jobs in Europe and five times that in indirect jobs. Worldwide, chemicals is an immense industry, considerably bigger than the automotive sector with revenues approaching $4 trillion.
Europe is no longer competitive. It has the worlds most expensive energy and labour laws that are uninviting for employers. Worst of all, it has green taxes that, at best, can be described as foolish as they are having the opposite effect to how they were intended.
This is one of the reasons why, in Britain, Ratcliffe has campaigned for an acceleration of the so-far all but non-existent fracking industry. Britain is sitting on trillions of tons of cubic feet of shale gas which, if exploited, would dramatically bring down the cost of energy. Indeed, it appears that Britain’s Bowland Shale is even more rich in gas than Texas:
Ineos, Britain’s biggest private company, claims drilling results from its field in Nottinghamshire suggest “U.S. levels” of shale gas under the soil.
Tests found an average level of 60.7 standard cubic feet per tonne of gas – compared with an average 39 (scf) at a vast shale field in Texas.
Ineos Shale chief operating officer Tom Pickering claimed it was the most significant drilling result so far in the short history of Britain’s shale industry.
He told The Sun: “It’s obviously early days but these are the highest readings in the UK we have ever seen.”
Geologists believe there could be 436 trillion cubic feet of gas in this part of the Bowland Basin. This test is consistent with that.
But the Government — and this one’s Conservative; imagine what a Labour one would be like! — is so wedded to green ideology and so nervous of the well-funded anti-fracking campaign industry that it has imposed such extreme precautionary principles on shale gas exploration that the fracking industry has effectively been strangled at birth with red tape.
So Ratcliffe has quit Britain not because he is instinctively unpatriotic or because he is greedy or selfish. He has quit because the EU and his country of birth has prevented him from doing the one thing that successful entrepreneurs care about above all else: business.
It’s quite possible too that lurking in the back of his mind is another clear and present danger: the increasingly likelihood that Theresa May is going to make such a hash of Brexit negotiations that Britain will remain effectively shackled to the European Union, and thus able to enjoy none of the commercial advantages that would have accrued had the United Kingdom become a freebooting global trading economy unburdened by EU tax and regulation.
And if that situation does occur, as well it might, it will increase the likelihood of an even more disastrous eventuality: a hard-left, confiscatory, high-tax, high-regulatory regime under Jeremy Corbyn.
Ratcliffe is leaving Britain, in other words, for the same reason all the wealth creators in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged fly off to Galt’s Gulch.
Entrepreneurs are there to do business, create value and be rewarded for their efforts. It’s amazing, not to say astonishingly depressing, how many people there are in Britain right now – including many if not most politicians – who do not get this.
If I were Sir Jim Ratcliffe I wouldn’t be hanging around for Theresa May to screw up Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn to gorge on what’s left of the carcass. I’d be off like a shot, wouldn’t you?
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