The rush of revelations about British politicians’ finances this week prompted by the Panama Papers leak marks a shift from traditional deference to Scandinavian-style openness, commentators say.
Prime Minister David Cameron led the way by releasing a summary of his taxes for the past six years on Sunday and he told parliament that British leaders or “potential prime ministers” should do the same.
Finance Minister George Osborne and London mayor Boris Johnson, both seen as possible successors to Cameron, quickly followed suit on Monday, along with main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“Welcome to real democracy… Disclose or die,” warned Matthew Parris, a former MP from Cameron’s Conservative Party and columnist for the Times newspaper.
“Times are changing. An era is upon us when trust and deference are gone,” he said, foreseeing a time when all MPs will have to publish their tax details.
“Tax is the new sex,” Parris added — a reference to the frequent sex scandals beloved of British tabloids that shook up the political world in the 1990s.
British MPs currently have to declare a range of financial interests to parliament every year but only if these could affect their political choices.
They are not obliged to go into great detail on the amounts and only have to reveal shareholdings above £70,000 (87,000 euros, $100,000).