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Paying the Nuclear Tax to China

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David Cameron has signed a piece of paper with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, opening the way for the company that makes the nuclear weapons for the world’s biggest Communist state to build and run nuclear power stations in Britain.

The deal is morally wrong, a betrayal of the British people, and a damaging blow to democratic principles.

Nuclear power in Britain can only be built with the help of large subsidies from citizens. In the past, these subsidies came through general taxation. Since electricity was privatised by Cameron’s predecessors, the tax to subsidise new nuclear will be a private tax, hidden in our electricity bills, the collectors of which will be the electricity firms themselves.

We, the electricity users of Britain – that is to say, everyone – will have no choice in whether to pay this tax. That is what makes it a tax. We can’t do without electricity. We can switch suppliers as often as we like, but it makes no difference – the nuclear tax will always be there. It is also a flat tax, meaning the richer you are, the less, proportionally, you pay.

Cameron proposes offering the British people an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union. No such referendum is being offered on the sale, to a state-owned company in an authoritarian one-party state, of taxation rights over every British household.

It is morally wrong, and a betrayal of the duty of care inherent in the principle of democratically elected government, for Cameron’s administration to compel British citizens to pay taxes to the government of another country; a government over which neither we as voters, nor Chinese people as voters, have power.

This is not an anti-Chinese position. If Chinese companies want to build, sell and compete in Britain without the help of taxation powers over British citizens enforced by British courts, I would welcome it. It would be fair for Chinese firms to bid to build and run nuclear power stations commissioned and owned by a non-profit British trust that independently collected a progressive energy security tax. As proposed, the deal is objectionable.

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