Billionaire Brexiter Sir James Dyson, his EU-funded farm and his Singapore move demonstrate the absolute hypocrisy typical of prominent Brexiters since the 2016 referendum.
First published in April 2019.
Despite the arch-Brexiter and billionaire inventor’s money, Otto English, a blogger and writer, wanted to know who is paying for Sir James Dyson’s water reservoir on one of his farms. How is it funded?
So, two weeks after making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, precisely asking whether any of the funding had come from the European Union funds...
FOI request, 26 March 2019 | WhatDoTheyKnow.com
... Otto finally received an answer last Friday from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) — an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) whose Secretary of State is Senior Brexiter Michael Gove.
FOI response, 12 April 2019 | WhatDoTheyKnow.com
In their answer, the RPA confirmed that the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant scheme is indeed funded by the European Union.
A quick search on the DEFRA website gives some interesting and precise figures on how much EU subsidies Dyson’s Beeswax farm received in 2016:
Details of amounts received by Beeswax Farming under the Common Agricultural Policy, 2016.
And again in 2017:
Details of amounts received by Beeswax Farming under the Common Agricultural Policy, 2017.
These figures (over £4 million in a two-year period) are freely available online — without any FOI request — because EU Member States are required to publish details of recipients of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidy payments on a single national website.
(Note that the current name of the company is Beeswax Dyson Farming Ltd. It was previously known as Beeswax Farming (Rainbow) Limited until 2016. Beeswax Farming (Spice) Limited became Dodington Commercial Properties Limited in 2016, which nature of the business is described at Companies House as “letting and operating of own or leased real estate.”)
In a letter published by The Spectator in January 2018, James Dyson tried to argue that big farming businesses like his should continue to receive such subsidies because it was good for consumers, for jobs and the countryside, and that subsidies should not be something reserved to small farms only.
Why would he write that?
Investing in farming. | The Spectator
Maybe the answer can be found in a piece published by the Daily Mail in January 2019, in which Guy Adams explains that thanks to EU funds, Dyson is believed to be England’s biggest private landowner and, most importantly, exempt from inheritance tax because of his ownership of a farming firm.
Why is Sir James Dyson deserting Britain? | Daily Mail
Could the Daily Mail actually be reliable for once? Let’s fact-check that...
Agricultural Relief for Inheritance Tax. | HM Revenue & Customs
According to the HM Revenue & Customs guidance, indeed “Agriculture Relief is due a 100%” to anyone who owns land and farms it.
So, does this demonstrate that Dyson is taking advantage of legal loopholes to both receive subsidies from the EU and avoid paying UK tax?
Ross Clark in the Sun tried to come to James Dyson’s defence last January by praising him for his business and literally calling him some sort of a hero who we should acknowledge and be grateful to have to protect so many jobs and paying so much tax.
Then, trying to make the case to support the good Dyson against the evil EU, Ross Clark found some fine arguments against the European Union based on facts which he ended up agreeing have absolutely nothing to do with the EU, and everything to do with the way the Home Office works (or doesn’t rather) instead!
Finally, the article ends on a surprising postulate suggesting that Dyson, when he campaigned for Brexit, was knowingly “arguing against his own personal financial interest,” because of the obvious loss of “subsidies paid” by the EU to his farming business. According to Clark, James Dyson is basically a hero who sacrificed himself and his business for the good of the nation. [sic]
What Billionaire Brexiter Sir James Dyson, his farm and his Singapore move actually demonstrate is the absolute hypocrisy typical of prominent Brexiters since the 2016 referendum. After having taken full advantages of the benefits that the EU membership brought to Britain, they first screwed the country, then took their assets away, or helped others to do so.
- In 2017, John Redwood (who happens to be a chief global strategist for the Charles Stanley investment bank) wrote a column of financial advice in the FT in which he recommended investors “look further afield” because of the state of the UK economy;
- In 2018, two investment funds were set up in Ireland by the City firm co-founded by Jacob Rees-Mogg (Mogg is still a 15% stakeholder in Somerset Capital Management);
- In 2018, Nigel Farage admitted he had taken care to ensure that two of his children can live, work and travel freely across the EU by having German passports;
- In 2018, former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, who has lived in a country mansion in south-west France since 2001, was planning to apply for French residency until he realised he would have to become a tax resident in France and lose his seat in the House of Lords...
- In 2019, Dyson announced it was moving its headquarters to Singapore, from Malmesbury in Wiltshire, UK.
Beeswax Dyson Farming Limited's key financials, 2013-2017. | Company Check
“Taking back control,” they said... Remember?
So, is Sir James Dyson a Global Britain superhero or an utter Brexit hypocrite? You decide.
▫ J.N. PAQUET, Author & Journalist, Editor of PMP Magazine.
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[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 18 April 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Flickr/Eva Rinaldi - James Dyson. | 19 Feb 2013. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)