Lord Ashcroft praises Malta as base for UK business during Brexit

Billionaire Tory donor and Leave supporter only briefly mentions political corruption

British businesses should set up a base in Malta so they can easily trade with the EU and deal with the “period of uncertainty” caused by Brexit, according to the billionaire Conservative donor and Leave supporter Michael Ashcroft.

A “special report” written by the peer details the merits of Malta as a base ahead of Paris, Frankfurt and other large European cities, while making only a brief reference to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as “reputational damage” for the island nation.

Writing for the website Conservative Home, Lord Ashcroft says: “I believe that Malta represents the best destination for ambitious UK firms that must have a post-Brexit presence in the European Union.”

The peer added that while he believed that the UK remained “the best location for nearly all UK companies … some UK firms have understandably decided, particularly in a period of uncertainty, that they will need a base in the EU in future”.

The peer is one of a number of high profile Brexiters who have been advised over relocating business operations elsewhere in the EU post-Brexit. The investment firm part owned by Jacob Rees-Mogg set up a fund in Ireland in March and warned investors of the “considerable uncertainty” posed by Brexit.

Ashcroft extols the country’s sunny Mediterranean climate in the piece that also features quotes from Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and praises its “wonderful quality of life” describing it as a country where “violent crime is rare”.

The article only mentions the killing of Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist who exposed corruption among the country’s ruling elites, in a paragraph towards the end.

“Malta has also suffered reputational damage in the past year from allegations of political corruption/money laundering and the tragic murder of the woman journalist at the centre of many of the claims,” Ashcroft writes.

“Daphne Caruana Galizia, aged 53 and a mother of three, was killed by a car bomb on October 16 2017: her three alleged killers have been charged in connection with her death, while the ‘Mr Big’ who apparently ordered the murder remains at large.”

The family of the murdered journalist believe that three men awaiting trial for the crime were acting on orders from inside Malta, while they and politicians from outside the country have called for the investigation to be widened to pursue those “with a motivation for silencing” her.

Ashcroft, 72, is a former Conservative party treasurer and deputy chairman who has given millions to the party. The pro-Brexit peer has substantial business interests in the small Caribbean nation of Belize and writes political books, including a controversial biography of David Cameron that featured a lurid allegation involving a dead pig’s head. Ashcroft is no longer a member of the House of Lords having resigned in 2015.


Dan Sabbagh

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Daphne Caruana Galizia: We knew establishment was out to get her – family
Murdered investigative journalist’s sons tell of attempts on their mother’s life, and why they blame a ‘takedown of the rule of law’ in Malta for her death

Jon Henley in Valletta

19, Oct, 2017 @4:00 AM

Article image
Daphne Caruana Galizia murder: EU justice chief to press case during Malta visit
Věra Jourová says she will travel to island in coming months, piling pressure on authorities

Daniel Boffey in Brussels and Stephanie Kirchgaessner

23, Apr, 2018 @3:21 PM

Article image
EU mission tells Malta PM to quit immediately over Caruana Galizia case
Joseph Muscat has made serious errors over investigation into journalist’s murder, says Dutch MEP

Jennifer Rankin in Brussels and agencies

03, Dec, 2019 @2:42 PM

Article image
Malta losing money 'hand over fist' from Azerbaijan energy deal, claim experts
Leaked files reveal cost of agreement to taxpayers as opposition calls for more transparency

Juliette Garside

25, Apr, 2018 @4:25 PM

Article image
Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist
Daphne Caruana Galizia, a blogger whose investigations focused on corruption, was described as a ‘one-woman WikiLeaks’

Juliette Garside

16, Oct, 2017 @5:33 PM

Article image
Malta accused of being tax haven as it takes EU presidency
Country helped multinationals avoid paying more than £12bn in taxes from 2012 to 2015, says report from Green MEPs

Jennifer Rankin in Brussels

11, Jan, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
Daphne Caruana Galizia: 'Malta has made me a scapegoat'
Journalist details decades of harassment in recording made days before her murder

Juliette Garside

17, Apr, 2018 @4:01 PM

Article image
Malta urged to drop libel lawsuits against Daphne Caruana Galizia
Council of Europe warns cases transferred to late journalist’s family jeopardise sources


19, Sep, 2019 @7:18 PM

Article image
Caruana Galizia family demand investigation into Malta PM's role
Embattled Joseph Muscat will quit in January, but provoked anger by refusing to go now

Jennifer Rankin in Brussels

02, Dec, 2019 @6:24 PM

Article image
Caruana Galizia family 'at war with Malta' after journalist's murder
Paul Caruana Galizia says his father and brothers have not had chance to mourn the death of their mother, Daphne

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

28, May, 2018 @3:31 PM