The staunch Brexit supporter Boris Johnson is already polling ahead of his rivals in the race to become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and he’s made a new campaign promise that could endear him further to the upper classes. Johnson proposed at a Tory party meeting Tuesday that leaving the European Union would allow him to build six freeports where pricey works of art, cars, jewelry and other luxury items can be stored without their owners incurring any fees or taxes.
As Johnson was quoted in The Art Newspaper:
We could do freeports [if the U.K. leaves the European Union (EU) as scheduled on 31 October]. It would be a massive boost to this economy, but only once we come out. I will have about six of them, by the way. We should definitely be doing freeports and tax-free zones. They have delivered around the world. I think there are around 130 countries that have them. We don’t, because of our membership of the EU. And there are plainly areas that would benefit from them.
But like the Brexit campaign itself, such a statement is rampant with misleading statements. Membership in the EU doesn’t prevent countries from having tax havens—in 2017, there were 82 in Europe. And you don’t need to successfully Brexit in order to open them—England currently has freeports already established, such as the Isle of Man. “How can Boris Johnson be so badly informed?” the Financial Times writer Guy de Jonquières tweeted.
There is also the question of whether England even wants to bring into its borders more opaque business activities of the ultra-ultra rich. As a Johnson opponent toldThe Guardian: “We should be leading the world in business transparency, not promoting structures that have the potential to facilitate money laundering.”