Gosh, what a week it’s been for this war of words.
First we heard that Boots chairman and acting CEO Stefano Pessina said a Labour government would be a “catastrophe”, damning the party’s proposals as “not helpful for business, not helpful for the country and in the end it probably won’t be helpful for them”.
“There is nothing that annoys people more than tax avoidance by big companies,” he told Sky News. “The chairman of Boots lives in Monaco and doesn’t pay British taxes.
“I don’t think people should take kindly to being told how to vote by someone who avoids paying his taxes.”
Then retail darling Stuart Rose, former CEO and chairman of Marks & Spencer, stuck his oar in, calling Miliband a “70s throwback” whose party’s “business bashing” could lead to “shuttered shop fronts” and a damaged economy.
Now Boris has weighed into the fray.
And in an even more dramatic turn of events, he seems to sympathise with Miliband’s position – at least as far as Boots’s tax affairs are concerned.
The mayor of London told LBC Radio that he finds it “a little bit disappointing” that Boots doesn’t “cough up for Britain”, following the 2008 move of its HQ from Nottingham to Switzerland, which in all likelihood means it has significantly reduced its UK tax bill.
But Boris was pretty balanced about the rationale for the move from Pessina’s perspective, too.
“[Pessina] is doing his best by the lights of his shareholders and the interests of the company,” he said.
“These guys, I’m afraid, have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to minimise their obligations. In business terms, it’s what you have to do.
“I have to say I find it a little bit disappointing that he doesn’t cough up for Britain.”
He added: “I think it is a good thing if companies that earn great sums in Britain should pay their taxes in Britain.”
Boris also said he found it “refreshing” that such a senior business leader would express such strong views ahead of an election, and that Pessina was “perfectly entitled” to do so.
And so the battle between big business and Labour rumbles on.
We’ll keep you posted on who says what next.