Britain’s richest man criticised over plans to leave the UK

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has featured in previous rankings

A billionaire businessman who was born and raised in Greater Manchester has been heavily criticised after it emerged he is planning to leave the UK to avoid a £4bn tax bill.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who was brought up in a council house in Failsworth, is thought to be Britain’s richest man with a fortune of £21bn.

The founder of chemicals firm Ineos, who was knighted last year, is also a prominent supporter of Brexit.

According to reports the 66-year-old has drawn up plans to move his home to Monaco.

The move has resulted in a barrage of criticism from MPs.

Meg Hillier, Labour chairman of the public accounts committee, said: “To be made a knight of the realm and then to start planning this is sticking two fingers up to the country that has honoured you.”

Sir Jim is known for being publicity shy but has described himself as deeply pro-British.

According to the Sunday Times he and two senior executives at the firm, Andy Currie and John Reece, would deprive the Treasury of between £400m and £4bn if they took their wealth offshore as part of a complex but legal tax avoidance plan.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: “There are thousands of our constituents who are being bankrupted by HM Revenue & Customs action over small-scale tax avoidance while big fish like Ratcliffe are just treating taxation as purely voluntary.

“The idea that we should be dishing out knighthoods to people who have no commitment to this country is rather shameful.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “The greed of these super-rich tax avoiders seems to have no bounds.

“Don’t they realise that every penny they hide away in their tax havens is a penny not spent on our NHS treating the sick, or social care looking after our lonely, isolated elderly, or the education of our children?”

Sir Jim criticised the EU last week for its ‘stupid’ green taxes which he claimed were choking the chemicals industry in Europe.

Ineos has been valued at £35bn, has a turnover of around £45bn and 18,500 employees in 22 countries.

A statement from the firm said: “Ineos and its owners always fully adhere to all tax legislation and consistently use external professionals to verify that all procedures are correct and compliant.”

Sir Jim was born in Failsworth. His father was a joiner and his mother an accounts office worker.

He lived in a council house until the age of ten. His father eventually ran a factory making laboratory furniture.

He moved with his family to Yorkshire at the age of ten and attended Beverley Grammar School. He lived in Hull up to the age of 18.

He graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in chemical engineering in 1974.

His first job was with oil giant Esso, but he decided to broaden his skills into finance by studying management accounting and taking an MBA at London Business School in 1980.

In 1989, he joined US private equity group Advent International.

Sir Jim was a co-founder of INSPEC, which leased the former BP Chemicals site in Antwerp, Belgium.

In 1998 he formed Ineos in Hampshire to buy-out INSPEC and the freehold of the Antwerp site.