This is a tale of two Britains, 2019 style, lost in the vicious clamour over Brexit.
In our towns and cities, rough sleepers fight for the best shop doorways to spend the night, while the stinking rich are jumping ship.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the country’s richest man, worth an estimated £21billion, is moving to Monaco with enormous amounts of tax-free money.
It has been reported that accountants worked for months on a “labyrinthine” plan for the billionaire boss and two fellow executives of Ineos chemicals to avoid paying a vast sum in taxes by moving their money offshore.
This perfectly legal operation will cost the Treasury at least £400million, cash that would end the scandal of people living on the streets overnight.
Brexiteer Sir Jim’s sickening scheme came to light as new figures show that the number of homeless people admitted to hospital has more than trebled in six years to 10,259.
The figure for those who die there after being rescued from doorway degradation has risen by 365% to 95.
Admissions for pneumonia, respiratory diseases, hepatitis C and kidney disease are now up almost five-fold.
The street is a lethal place, as I found investigating this story in Nottingham recently, where the homeless wrapped themselves in dirty blankets to ward off sub-zero temperatures.
They all have a different story to tell: mental health issues, drugs, alcohol abuse, eviction, losing a partner or becoming unemployed.
But they share the same fate – homeless in one of the world’s richest countries.
Sir Jim’s current big concern is how to persuade the Government to relax its Earth-tremor regulations on fracking so Ineos can pump more millions into his wallet.
For the homeless, it’s how to stay in one piece.
Rough sleepers are 17 times more likely to be a victim of violence, and twice as likely to die from infections.
The average age of death for a homeless person is 44.
Sir Jim is 66, looking forward to a long life of luxury on the tax-free Riviera.
The homeless don’t pay tax, only fines for begging under the 1824 Vagrancy Act, introduced for soldiers returning from the Napoleonic Wars.
It does not apply to the new Napoleon of Monaco, who does not wish to comment.
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