DAYS before a Labour U-turn on a major tax plan for digital companies, senior Labour representatives accepted thousands of pounds of gifts from Google.

Gifts from the digital giant include hospitality tickets and accommodation for Glastonbury festival, as well as a £380 dinner from Google for Keir Starmer and one staff member, OpenDemocracy revealed.

After the festival, reports emerged that Labour ditched its proposal to hike tax on digital businesses like Google. 

Reports estimate Labour shadow cabinet members and their staff accepted luxury gifts from Google worth nearly £10,000 over the months before they announced the policy U-turn.

YouTube, owned by Google, will also sponsor an event at Labour’s annual conference next month.

READ MORE: Labour bin 'temporary' pledge to raise taxes on Facebook and Amazon

The Digital Services Tax, introduced in 2020, is a 2% levy on the UK income of online companies like search engines and social media platforms.

In August last year, Labour’s shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds and shadow chancellor colleague Rachel Reeves called for an increase in the tax to 10%, saying the income would raise an estimated £3 billion and be used to fund a slash in tax for small businesses.

However, Reynolds, his wife who is his senior parliamentary assistant, and Keir Starmer’s political director all attended Glastonbury in June as guests of YouTube.

On June 5, Reynolds was still talking about the tax plan increase, yet on June 26 this year, the day after Glastonbury ended, The Times reported that the policy had been ditched, with Labour saying it had “no plans” to raise the digital service tax when in government. Reynolds declined to comment.

Including accommodation and hospitality, Reynolds estimates the gifted package for two was worth £3377, according to his register of interests. Regular tickets for the event cost £335 each.

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In February, shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell’s political adviser, Labour’s executive director of policy, and the party’s head of domestic policy all accepted tickets and transport to, and hospitality at, the Brit Awards in February from Google.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said: “This is a very worrying set of events which suggests that big business has far too much access to senior opposition politicians.

“But this isn’t simply about foolish behaviour on the part of the individuals concerned. In office, Labour needs to radically restructure our economy if it’s to have any hope of creating a more sustainable and equal society and undoing the damage of recent governments. To do that, they must take on vested interests, like the Big Tech monopolies, which have far too much wealth and power.”