David Cameron could hardly have made a bigger hash of his own defence in the crisis over offshore tax-havens.
If only he’d had the common sense to “come clean” at the outset when the Panama Papers scandal first broke, he could have avoided many of the accusations that he had something to hide as he dithered from one position to the next.
Downing Street issued a series of statements, each one “clarifying” the previous one, giving the impression, wrongly, that the Prime Minister was up to his neck in tax evasion.
Those few days cost him dearly in trust and authority – although he has now, apparently, put the record straight, published his tax affairs, and fights to restore his reputation.
Surely Cameron and his advisers are mature enough to have realised that unconvincing excuses and what appear to be half-truths, will always be exposed.
None of this, however, appears to have convinced Her Majesty’s Opposition, who have awoken from a torpor, accusing the Prime Minister of a lack of integrity, alongside demands, from some quarters, that Cameron should resign. The issue now seems to centre on Cameron’s mother’s gift to him of £200,000.
The issue will come up in Parliament again. The Prime Minister regularly flattens Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at question time. Unfortunately for Cameron, although this is splendid theatre, it does not appear to win him many votes.
But all that is not the Prime Minister’s only worry. He is also under attack over his decision to “misuse” taxpayers’ money to produce a 16-page leaflet, urging people to vote to remain in the EU at the June 23 referendum.
How can the Prime Minister argue he cannot afford to give more money to junior doctors, nurses and other vital public servants, when he can suddenly produce this £9m rabbit out of the hat for what has been termed a brainwashing exercise?
No wonder the Brexit supporters are fuming. However, they console themselves by saying the Prime Minister must be quaking in his boots about “losing” the referendum if he has to resort to this kind of action. A Brexit victory on June 23 could put David Cameron out of Downing Street, some two years before he had planned to leave.