No tax with Tories

Hague says Tories have no plans for expat tax...

British shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague has ruled out forcing British expatriates to pay domestic income taxes if the Conservative Party wins the May 6 elections.

Talking to Arabian Business in a telephone interview, he added a Conservative government would look to significantly strengthen ties with Gulf countries with the aim of boosting business opportunities for British individuals and companies in the region.

On the subject of making British expatriates pay tax, as Americans do, Hague said: "We have no plans to do that at all. There is no reason to change the existing position that I am aware of, and I imagine that it would be a very complex thing to do... Certainly we do not have any plans to do so. I haven't heard about it at all."

American expatriates pay domestic income taxes wherever they are in the world. The only way they can stop paying is by renouncing citizenship.

Hague said he believed strengthening ties with Gulf countries would represent one of the major foreign policy priorities for an incoming Conservative government.

He said: "The challenge is to strengthen British relationships with the Gulf states. I have called for some years for a major, long-term cross party effort to elevate British links with the Gulf states across the board. That means in education and culture, of course in commerce and diplomacy, and, where appropriate, with military cooperation.

"Most of the Gulf countries have complained to various degrees about a lack of support and cooperation from Britain in recent years, and so we do very much intend to put that right.

"The foreign ministers of many of the Gulf states are enthusiastic about this approach. And I think that will over time help secure even more business opportunities for British people and businesses in the Gulf."

Hague added the ruling Labour party had let the relationship between Britain and Gulf countries - traditionally a strong one - deteriorate, particularly under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"I think they (Labour) let it slide for a long time, but I think they have done a little more in recent years. For instance, it was only in his last few months as Prime Minister that Tony Blair visited the UAE, which is our eleventh biggest trading partner and a major allied country in the Gulf.

"And he only did that after being needled by me about it several times. He has been much keener to go to the Gulf since he left office as Prime Minister of course, for his own financial reasons," he said.

Asked what steps a Conservative government would take to ensure British contractors who claim to be owed in the region of £500m for construction work done during the Dubai boom are paid, Hague said:

"Well I don't know the details about it, but of course they would receive any consular assistance and advice, and if appropriate it can be raised at ministerial level. But I would have to know a lot more about it before deciding to do that."

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