UK Politics

Cameron offshore fund: Perception, timing and trust

David Cameron Image copyright Reuters

Even David Cameron himself has admitted it has been a pretty difficult week.

Downing Street has been thrown on the defensive, forced to ride out damning headlines that have dogged the prime minister day after day. There have been accusations Mr Cameron has "played the public" on his tax affairs and that he has lost the electorate's trust.

Remember, he is currently in the middle of the political fight of his life, battling to keep Britain in the European Union. He's trying to persuade voters to believe his arguments, trying to win over their trust in the referendum debate.

So, the timing isn't good. Anything like this that highlights the distance between him and voters will not help.

The problem for the prime minister is political image. He hasn't done anything illegal but it is perception that matters.

On the upside, he will be cheered by support from some unlikely allies. Some Tory Eurosceptics have been getting behind their leader describing the row over his personal finances as "very unseemly" and "very distasteful".

Labour MPs are keeping up the pressure with demands for Mr Cameron to come to the House of Commons next week and give a statement explaining his tax affairs.

If the PM was hoping this would all have blown over by the weekend, he's likely to be mistaken; the questions will continue to come. And with the PM's promise to publish his tax return in the coming days there'll be another opportunity for his critics to pile the pressure on again.

I think Downing Street has been left furious by events. During an unusually terse conversation with a No 10 source, I asked how they felt at the end of such a troubling week.

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing," they replied - an admission, I think, they'd do things very differently if they had the chance again.

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