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Miliband: I can get away with Google threat

Google would stay in Britain even if Ed Miliband unilaterally strengthened the country’s tax transparency laws, the Labour leader has told Politics.co.uk.

Miliband used a speech at the Google Big Tent event in Hertfordshire to make clear he was “deeply disappointed” by the “extraordinary lengths” the internet giant is going to to limit its tax exposure in Britain.

Speaking afterwards, Miliband confidently insisted the UK would not suffer from a sudden exodus of large multinationals if it acted independently of other countries.

“Governments can act,” he told Politics.co.uk.

“Google just invested £1 billion in a headquarters in King’s Cross. They’re not about to leave.

“For too long politicians have been cowed and not acted on the banks, on big media like Rupert Murdoch. I think we’ve got to try and do the right thing and do it internationally but if that doesn’t work, we’ve got to do it domestically.”

Ed Miliband talks to politics.co.uk about what he would actually do in government

The comments came ahead of David Cameron’s visit to Brussels, where he is attempting to argue a common EU position on international companies’ tax avoidance efforts ahead of next month’s G8 summit.

Miliband added: “David Cameron hasn’t made a proper set of proposals internationally, he’s not willing to act at home and he’s not even willing to say to Google that what they’re doing is wrong.”

Labour wants to see country-by-country reporting transparency, reform of the rules on transfer pricing to prevent companies shifting profits around and a crackdown on tax havens.

Miliband indicated he was prepared to act alone if these are not achieved before 2015. His comments are likely to attract condemnation from business groups fearful that such a move would lead to a drastic reduction in levels of foreign direct investment to Britain.


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