Analysis: Cameron backs City agenda by resisting Robin Hood tax at G20


Has the City of London’s funding of the Conservative party paid off?

Today at the G20 meeting of world leaders, David Cameron resisted growing international pressure to introduce a transaction tax on financial trades.

The prime minister’s stance matched the position of the Conservative’s Square Mile funders who would have been hit by such a measure.

Last month, the Bureau revealed that 51.6% of Conservative party funding came from the financiers and the City many of whom are actively lobbying against the introduction of the FTT.

Growing international calls for the financial sector to contribute towards a ‘recovery’ fund as a way to compensate for the economic catastrophe it largely caused has seen the concept of a financial transaction tax shoot up the political agenda.

Such a tax, about 0.05% on each financial trade, could generate £20bn in the UK alone if implemented. That figure could rise to hundreds of billions of pounds if adopted globally.

It was hoped that this week’s G20 meeting would see an agreement on the introduction of an FTT, otherwise known as the Robin Hood Tax.

But this afternoon, world leaders failed to press the button on the FTT. ‘We acknowledge the initiatives in some of our countries to tax the financial sector for various purposes, including a financial transaction tax, inter alia to support development,’ was the best the G20 could offer in its final communiqué.

Yet in the past two days it has emerged that Brazil, Argentina and South Africa as well as France and Germany and all likelihood the rest of the Eurozone are committed to introduce an FTT.

It is also suggested that the United States and Russia has softened their opposition to an FTT. This leaves Canada and the UK as unwilling participants.

The FTT has in recent days secured a ‘holy trinity’ alliance of the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bill Gates.

But standing alone in Europe is David Cameron who has steadfastly refused to back the FTT. The Conservative leader argued the FTT will only work if it is applied globally. He added that if just the European Union introduces the tax, it will have a disproportionate effect on the City of London where most financial trades happen.

So round one to the City of London and the financier backers of the Conservative party perhaps. But Nicholas  Sarkozy insists he will drive through the FTT by the end of next year. The FTT is set to become a major battleground especially if Cameron continues to champion the City’s interests while the economy tanks.