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UK Politics

Millionaire Tory donor says won't appeal expulsion

Stuart Wheeler, one of the Conservative Party's most generous backers said today he would not appeal against its decision to expel him for supporting a euro sceptic rival.

Stuart Wheeler announced at the weekend he was giving £100,000 to the fringe UK Independence Party, which is committed to pulling Britain out of the European Union.

The millionaire businessman said he had switched allegiance because the opposition Conservatives were too soft on European integration.

"I do want the Conservatives if they are in power to try very hard to get the European Union to accept a much looser relationship and to put us back to the position more or less like we were when we first joined, a wonderful trading relationship with not much else," Wheeler told BBC radio.

Wheeler gave £5m to the Conservatives in 2001, followed by a further £500,000 in 2003. He said he had been giving the party £50,000 a year since then.

"I shan't appeal," he said. "Their (UKIP's) position is far nearer to what I would like to happen than anybody else's."

He said he would not seek to rejoin the Conservatives after the next election, even though he agreed with them on many other issues.

"If they don't want me ... that's fair enough, but I don't think I'll beg to come back, certainly not."

The Conservatives said at the weekend they had suspended Wheeler as a precursor to expulsion, and gave him 28 days in which to appeal.

Last year the High Court rejected a lawsuit brought by Wheeler that sought to halt Britain's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, aimed at streamlining decision-making in the European Union.