Tory grandee calls on PM to have ‘Love Actually moment’ with Joe Biden

B

oris Johnson has been urged to have his “Love Actually moment” and stand up to US President Joe Biden by a Tory grandee.

The movie-inspired suggestion, ahead of the leaders first meeting at the G7 summit in Cornwall was made by Conservative former Cabinet minister Lord Forsyth of Drumlean as he heaped criticism on the UK for entering a “cartel” on setting a global base rate for corporation tax.

While it may be “good news” for America, which is home to the tech giants, he questioned Britain “suddenly abandoning competition in taxation”.

The Tory peer, who chairs the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, argued it should be the UK Parliament taking decisions on tax and not the White House incumbent.

Hugh Grant Love Actually / PA Archive

The Leave supporter also referred to reports that Mr Biden was set to warn the Prime Minister not to renege on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has been a source of continuing friction post-Brexit.

Speaking at Westminster, Lord Forsyth said it was time for Mr Johnson to make a similar speech to that of Hugh Grant’s PM in the 2003 film where he took a defiant stance against Billy Bob Thornton’s president.

He made his comments after G7 finance ministers, including from the US, signed up to a minimum global rate of corporation tax, the tax paid on company profits, of “at least” 15%.

Lord Forsyth said: “Entering a cartel to set a minimum level of corporation tax may be good news for the United States on revenues from its increasingly over-mighty tech companies.

“But what happened to that vision of global Britain – the place to invest and create jobs and prosperity?”

He argued that the thinking behind freeports – special economic zones offering tax breaks and lower tariffs – should be applied to the nation as a whole.

Lord Forsyth said: “If we believe in competition as the way to secure innovation and prosperity, why are we suddenly abandoning competition in taxation?

“Take back control was about as much as setting our own taxes and laws as it was about regulation.

“And it should be for the other place (the Commons) to decide tax matters and tax policy, not the President of the United States. Not by international treaty.

“It is wrong for the executive to circumvent that.”

He added: “I fear the President of the United States now appears to want to opine on the Northern Ireland protocol.

“It may be time for Boris Johnson to have his Love Actually moment and not just make the speech, but also to unleash the talents of the British people.”

Lord Forsyth was also critical of the plan by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to increase corporation tax in the UK from 19% to 25% by 2023 as part of efforts to rebuild the public finances following record Government borrowing during the pandemic.

He said: “The only way that we can get through this crisis is by getting our economy growing again.”

The current long-term growth projections of just under 2% were “wholly inadequate and not acceptable”.

“Increasing corporation tax is the opposite of what is needed if we want to see more investment, growth and employment,” added Lord Forsyth.

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