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What can you think when you realise that the chairman of the International Business Advisory Council – charged with safeguarding London’s pre-eminence as a business centre – is about to move his own HQ to Ireland?

Such is the position of Sir Martin Sorrell, head of advertising conglomerate WPP, who announced last week that he was moving his company to Ireland to escape the UK’s penal treatment of international dividend income.

Introducing the first meeting of the Council London Mayor Boris Johnson said:

“Like many world cities, London’s economy, its markets and its businesses are feeling the effect of the global credit crunch and it is essential we agree on decisive measure to minimise any long-term damage. Bringing some of the worlds best business minds together at City Hall could not be better timed.

“It’s clear from what I have heard that the government must rethink its strategy on taxation as many Council members reaffirmed that the current system is highly likely to drive more great wealth creating enterprises like Sir Martin’s WPP to base their headquarters overseas where they feel the tax demands are fairer.”

London frequently features at the top of league tables as a pre-eminent global city in which to do business, and is perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in the world. But it scores low on measures of ‘liveability’. And the taxation situation of UK headquarters companies is just dire.

These new committees and councils – this in only one of several – are simply too little, too late. Its all a bit like rearranging the deck-chairs as the Titanic sinks. Do you think that Mr Brown or Mr Darling are listening? Or are they too busy spending the taxpayers’ money on buying banks?

2 Responses to “Don’t Do As I Do. Do As I Say: International Business Deserting London”

  1. Brian says:

    You couldn’t make it up, could you?

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