Boris Johnson to trigger cronyism row by awarding peerage to billionaire Tory Brexiteer donor

Ex-party treasurer Peter Cruddas, one of the City’s richest men, is revealed to be on a list of nominees 

Peter Cruddas gave Vote Leave £1.5m and has also donated more than £3.5m to the Tories
Peter Cruddas gave Vote Leave £1.5m and has also donated more than £3.5m to the Tories

Boris Johnson is poised to trigger a cronyism row by handing a peerage to a billionaire Conservative party donor and Brexit backer.

Peter Cruddas, one of the City’s richest men, is on a list of nominees for the controversial dissolution honours to be handed out this month, Sky News revealed.

A self-made businessman, Mr Cruddas was one of the founders of the Vote Leave campaign, gave it £1.5m for the 2016 referendum – and has also donated more than £3.5m to the Tories.

He was among the major donors to Mr Johnson’s Tory leadership campaign last year, telling one interviewer: “I’m going to give him some money and back him.”

Mr Cruddas is a former party treasurer, as is Michael Spencer – a second billionaire Conservative donor expected to be handed a seat in the House of Lords.

Earlier, it was revealed that Mr Johnson has reached out across Brexit divide, by also nominating former chancellors Ken Clarke and Phillip Hammond for peerages.

The peerages have been held up by a vetting process, amid a blizzard of leaks about the names put forward by both the big political parties.

They are being considered by the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HoLAC), which probes financial interests and other potential controversies.

Another major row surrounds Labour’s nomination of John Bercow, despite detailed allegations of bullying of Commons staff which he denies.

Mr Cruddas, who founded the FTSE-250 financial services company CMC Markets, quit as Tory treasurer after cash-for-access allegations in The Sunday Times.

However, he successfully sued the newspaper for libel and was also exonerated by the Electoral Commission.

He has also sought to build a reputation as a major philanthropist, pledging to donate £100m to charity through his personal foundation.

Unlike Mr Cruddas, a key Vote Leave figure, Mr Spencer was a vocal Remain supporter, although he too subsequently donated to Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign.

The founder of electronic markets company ICAP, a previous attempt to instal him in the Lords by David Cameron was reportedly blocked.

His company was fined in 2013 after being involved in the Libor rate-rigging scandal, but Mr Spencer was not personally implicated in any allegations of wrongdoing.

It is estimated that he helped raise more than £100m for Tory coffers during his four years as treasurer, helping to put Mr Cameron into Downing Street in 2010.

Mr Corbyn’s list of nominees is also controversial because it is thought to include his chief of staff Karie Murphy, despite her role in the handling of Labour’s antisemitism scandal – which is still under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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