Conservatives branded ‘party of billionaires’ as one-third of UK’s richest people donate to Tories

No fewer than 48 of 151 members of elite club have given almost £52m, Labour analysis finds

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 19 November 2019 00:16 GMT
General Election 2019: Opinion polls over the last seven days

Labour is branding the Conservatives the “party of the billionaires”, revealing that almost one-third of the UK’s richest people have donated almost £52m.

No fewer than 48 of 151 members of the elite club have bankrolled the party over the last 14 years, according to a fresh analysis of funding – including 15 this year alone.

Meanwhile, almost £100bn will have been handed in tax breaks to the super-rich and big corporations by the end of the next parliament, Labour says.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, called the wealth of billionaires “obscene”, arguing it would take a newly qualified nurse 50,000 years to accumulate such a stockpile.

And he alleged: “It is also obscene that these billionaires are buying access and tax breaks to Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.

“We know whose side Boris Johnson is on – the billionaires, the bankers and big business.”

According to Labour’s calculations, by 2023-24, the cost of the giveaways will be £86bn (corporation tax), £5.5bn (capital gains tax), £5.6bn (inheritance tax) and £1.2bn (income tax for high-earners).

Boris Johnson revealed his sensitivity to the charge of being in hock to the wealthy by shelving the latest round of corporation tax cuts, in a surprise U-turn on Tuesday.

Now Labour’s document, entitled ‘In The Pockets Of The Few’, delves into the scale of the financial links between the Conservatives and the billionaires’ club.

Many belong to the exclusive Tory party ‘Leader’s Group’, who cough up £50,000 a year to dine with top Tory ministers at exclusive events.

Among the donors who have given the party money since the start of the summer are:

* Anthony Bamford, the head of machinery manufacturer JCB, who gave the prime minister himself £20,000 in August – part of total donations by him or his company since 2005 of £12.1m.

* Michael Spencer, a former Tory party treasurer, who gave £20,000 to chancellor Sajid Javid in June – total donations £6.3m.

* Charles Cayzer, a shipping tycoon, who has given a total of £27,500 to Conservative MPs and candidates since May – total donations £480,000.

* Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate, who gave £10,000 to the prime minister in July.

* Peter Jones, who gave £5,300 to housing minister Esther McVey’s local party in Tatton – total donations £111,600.

In a speech in London today, Mr McDonnell will seek to claim the Brexit-winning mantra of “taking back control”, arguing Labour will deliver it for workers if it wins the general election.

“The slogan ‘taking back control’ was mobilised to great effect in the Brexit debate because people rightly felt that they have little or no control over much of their lives anymore,” he will say.

“Labour will rewrite the rules of our economy. It’s all about treating people fairly and with the respect they deserve

“Labour’s reforms to how our large businesses and public utilities are governed and owned and how both workers and consumers are represented will genuinely enable them to take back control.”

The Conservatives did not dispute the analysis of donors, but argued Mr McDonnell’s stance showed Labour was against “helping people to succeed”.

“They want to take away your family home in higher taxes. Their plans would not hit billionaires – they would overwhelmingly hurt hard pressed families,” claimed Simon Clarke, a treasury minister.

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