DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Hated tourist tax makes us a global laughing stock

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Hated tourist tax makes us a global laughing stock

There could hardly be a stronger sign of the frustration felt by leading businesses at the Chancellor’s ill-thought-out ‘tourist tax’ than that so many are backing the Mail’s campaign to scrap it.

Jeremy Hunt’s myopic refusal to reinstate tax-free shopping for overseas visitors has been condemned by 100 of the biggest names in retail, hospitality and tourism – an extraordinarily powerful response.

When will he grasp how damaging this decision is? By making luxury goods 20 per cent more expensive in Britain, the Government is encouraging overseas customers to wait until they reach the Continent before shopping until they drop.

Firms on the prestigious Champs-Elysees in Paris will gleefully toast their bonne chance that the appeal of UK rivals has been hobbled by an act of egregious self-harm.

And, of course, it isn’t just luxury brands that will suffer. Fewer international travellers staying here for fewer days means our hotels, beauty spots, restaurants, theatres and transport will also lose out.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt talks to a television crew outside the BBC headquarters

The Treasury claims axing VAT-free shopping will raise an extra £2billion. But research shows this would be outweighed by the tax windfall of attracting more tourists, helping the economy to grow.

The trouble is that the reigning Treasury orthodoxy fails to understand this. However, with figures showing Britain has borrowed £13billion less than forecast, there is room for Mr Hunt to axe this iniquitous, self-defeating, un-Tory policy.

The alternative is to watch impotently as big-spending tourists choose instead to open their wallets elsewhere.

American nightmare

AS the proverb says, there’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle. It is arguable whether American voters will concur with that saying if next year’s US presidential election is fought between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

How dispiriting to think that the US may have to choose between an octogenarian seemingly suffering from cognitive decline and a puffed-up 76-year-old narcissist fighting to stay out of prison.

Launching his campaign yesterday for four more years in the White House, Mr Biden said he wanted to ‘finish the job’.

But he has made a spectacular mess of the job. He bungled the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, his handling of the economy has been hopeless and he is in thrall to the radical race-based progressive policies that terrify Middle America.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who just announced his reelection campaign for president, delivers remarks at North America’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference

Something had gone badly wrong with the US, a one-time beacon of democracy, for it to offer such an appalling choice of candidates in 2020 as Sleepy Joe and The Donald. With the world ever more unstable, to repeat the miserable run-off in 2024 would be truly terrifying.

Hose ban in hot water

WE may have just endured the wettest March for 40 years but that hasn’t stopped South West Water warning residents of Devon and Cornwall that a hosepipe ban could be in place until Christmas.

Few would disagree that people have a responsibility not to waste water. However, they would also expect utility firms to put their own houses in order before asking their customers to make sacrifices. Yet South West Water profligately allows 90 million litres each day to leak from its pipes.

For, while vast profits have sloshed into the firm’s bank account, investment has not flowed quite as well. Spending on broken infrastructure has dropped dramatically. No wonder customers are hopping mad.

South West Water is paid to do something simple: Save up water that falls from the heavens and pipe it to homes.

If it can’t provide this essential service without imposing punishing restrictions, the Government should hit the firm hard.

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