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The continuing exodus of business from Britain

CityAm, the freesheet newspaper in London, has this cracking scoop:

Shire Pharmaceuticals, the FTSE 100 drugs giant that focuses on treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is to re-register its head office outside the UK for tax reasons.

The group, which is valued at around £5bn, has been consulting the accounting group PriceWaterhouseCoopers on the merits of a move and is set to inform investors today. Shire’s headquarters are currently near Basingstoke. The news will come as a further blow to the UK economy.

The story ends with a quote from Matthew Elliott, head of the lobby group, The TaxPayers’ Alliance:

“This disastrous news confirms that Britain’s competitiveness has suffered a series of blows from misguided tax hikes.”

I am glad to see that the influence of CityAm’s newly-appointed editor, Allister Heath, who has written on the flat-tax issue in the past for the Taxpayer’s Alliance and at the now-defunct weekly, The Business, is making itself felt. Far too many journalists at places such as the FT, for instance, seem to operate in a corporatist cocoon. Allister will not make that mistake.

16 comments to The continuing exodus of business from Britain

  • Gregory


    I work for a Brit who’s a tax exile also. He owns Ipswich (the football club).

    I often wonder how it is possible for governments NOT to realise that high taxes are the equivalent of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    It looks as if the UK govt is about to get another lesson in Economics 101… but the question is, will they get it this time?

  • guy herbert

    It is not just high taxes. It is also the rapid increase in the regulatory burden.

    For individuals – and businesses care about their international staff’s comfort too – the growing neuroticism of public debate and general bullying and hostility that is the coin of triumphant officialdom, may get to them.

    I know it does me.

  • This is not a wakeup call, it is an inevitable consequence predictable by anyone with two neurons to synapse.

    But Gordie designed and implemented the relevant policies regardless. Anyone silly enough to think he will care enough to change them?

  • John Louis Swaine

    When I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 on business last month I saw a big sign reading “Invest in Britain”.

    I almost choked on my teeny-weeny, £1.15 bottle of mineral water.

    Why bother? If you don’t work in Financial Services there seems to be little or no reason to startup in the UK. I pulled my group out of England because it simply wasn’t in any way necessary to be there, all we did was incur a punitive tax burden and become entangled in absurd bureaucracy.

    Instead we’re a Hong Kong company with some operations in Malta. The weather doesn’t suck, the local workforce speak English and are highly skilled (improving every year), our tax rate is low and we still have complete and total access to the common market.

    Europe’s charge-free single market may ironically be the final undoing of idiotic socialist bureaucratic restraints on commerce. Why set up in England when you can be in Ireland or Malta with complete access to the same market?

  • Lascaille

    Personally I think there’s one huge upside to the immense amount of fuckery that’s shortly going to occur – it should banish the Labour party from power for another 25 years, and teach a generation who never had to endure the 3-day-week, brownouts and general strikes that Socialism really does not work.


  • Nick Timms

    Unfortunately Lascalle, speaking as someone who also lived through the 70’s in the UK, these people NEVER learn. It is nearly always ideology that wins over experience for a certain type of lefty.

  • Mike D

    Shire is a major employer in the USA also – they have a very large production site here (I think it’s in Maryland). I’m in the pharmaceutical industry too and one of my old coworkers is now quite happily employed by them. They are apparently a very nice outfit to work for.

    So, these jobs being driven out of the UK are most likely high-quality, high-paying positions. Just in case this news wasn’t irritating enough yet.

  • WalterBowsell

    Perhaps they are awaiting the dreaded single corp. tax rate which is rumoured to be on the cards. If everyone in the EU zone has terribly high rates where are businesses likely to run to? Nowhere … oh wait they forgot about the rest of the world.

  • Bod

    Nick T,

    Yeah, you’re spot on there. For a socialist, the prescription for failed socialist policies is more aggressive socialist policies.

    “The reason we failed is that the proletariat were not committed sufficiently to the cause. We need to re-educate them and try again.”

    Sorry to rant. I just got notice that my brother, who reads “The Ragged-Trousered Philanthorpist” every year, has just deigned to visit me, and I’ve had just about all the nanny-statist preaching I can handle for the decade.

  • It is not only businesses,those with skills are leaving in droves.The damage perpetrated by Nu Labor with take a generation to heal.

  • Ron Brick said;

    It is not only businesses,those with skills are leaving in droves.The damage perpetrated by Nu Labor with take a generation to heal.

    The GOATS are leaving too, may as well call the rest QUISLINGS.

  • Curly,
    It is not only Britain.Shell is threatening to pull outof Europe. We are going to need those goats.

  • RRS

    It’s probably not just taxes, there must be something awry with the professional environments as well.

    Example: The NIH limiting conditions for practice, including the time, conditions and opportunities for continuous learning available to highly competent and would be inovative physicians; for example, in pediatrics and pediatric surgery.

    I would think the losses of trained and aggressive medical personnel (at all levels) should count for as much as loss of “jobs” or of revenues.

  • Paul Marks

    For those seeking to go to the Republic of Ireland to avoid British levels of taxation – remember that your company is still subject to E.U. regulations (including the insane copy the E.U. has made of U.S. “antitrust” regulations, which are demented enough even in the United States).

    Taxes have been going up in Switzerland since the S.P.D. entered government in 1959 – I wonder if the Swiss now have “fair competition” regulations now as well.

  • Dave Petterson

    In another 25 years the lessons will be forgotten just as the lessons of the late 70s have been. Plus the people most willing to embrace the Socialist ideals are the people that want someone look after them and to take the money off these rich people who always have too much. Most young people like this because, put bluntly, they have nothing to be taxed or stolen.

    The cycle will never end. Unless we tested for it and make it a capital offence. 🙂

  • John K

    I heard Will Hutton whining about this on the radio. Apparently it is wrong for the Republic of Ireland to use “unfair tax competition” in this way, and the good old EU should have a common rate of corporation tax to put a stop to it. In the meantime, he thinks the British government should punish Shire for their temerity, and refuse to do business with them. The boob does not realise that the course of action he proposes would itself be illegal under the rules of the EU he loves so much.

    Will Hutton does of course provide a useful function. If you ever want to know the right course of action, just listen to him and do the opposite.