LONDON — Opposition MPs are calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to disclose her financial arrangements after it emerged that she operates a blind trust to manage her investments.
May operates a “blind trust / blind management arrangement,” according to the latest Register of Ministers’ Interests. Based on a previously disclosed dividend payment of £5,419 in 2014/15, the Telegraph estimates her portfolio to be worth £145,000.
Under a blind trust arrangement, people have no knowledge of how their investment portfolio is managed. A group of trustees are given full discretionary power over the trust’s handling and management of the money. They are not required to reveal the full details of their investments to the people whose money they are managing (hence the blind aspect).
Downing Street insisted that the arrangement is a “well-established mechanism” to protect ministers from conflicts of interest.
But both Labour and Liberal Democrats MPs have argued that May knew what investments were in her portfolio before the trust was created, creating the potential for a conflict of interest.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said in a statement: “I’m sure the Prime Minister has nothing to hide but the public has a legitimate interest in what companies she invested in and who runs the trust.
“Theresa May promised the most transparent government in the world. This is an early test to see if her deeds match her words.”
Labour MP and shadow minister without portfolio Andrew Gwynne said a statement: “Not even six months in the job and Theresa May’s government is starting to be defined by its secrecy and complete lack of transparency. If the Prime Minister has nothing to hide then she needs to reveal immediately where she has existing financial interests.”
He added: “In not being able to scrutinise the Prime Minister’s financial affairs it’s not possible to know if they present a conflict of interest with her government responsibilities.”
A spokeswoman for Number 10 said in a statement: “Blind trusts are a well-established mechanism for protecting ministers in the handling of their interests, as they are not involved in any decisions on the management, acquisition or disposal of items in the trust. She set it up when she became Prime Minister.”
May’s predecessor David Cameron sold all his shares when he was elected as Prime Minister in 2010, avoiding the need for a blind trust.
His own financial arrangements were heavily criticised in 2016, however, when leaked papers revealed that he had sold a £30,000 stake in his father’s offshore fund as part of the sell-off.
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