Saturday 23 November 2019 / 1:29 PM Jon Trickett

“People deserve to know who is buying access to the top of government” Trickett calls on Tories to publish details of super-rich donors

Labour is calling on the Conservative Party to immediately publish full details of meetings held between its super-rich backers and senior government ministers.

It has been almost 18 months since the Tories last published details of meetings of its exclusive ‘Leader’s Group’, despite a commitment by former Prime Minister David Cameron to publish the list of attendees “every quarter”.

More than half of almost £42 million cash donations Conservative HQ has received since the 2017 General Election has come from Leader’s Group donors who pay an annual membership fee of £50,000 to have exclusive access to the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers.

Jon Trickett, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, who has written to Tory Chairman James Cleverly calling for the list to be published, said:

“Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are in the pockets of the super-rich.

“One third of all UK billionaires have donated to his Party, while Tory governments have delivered ‘get rich even quicker’ schemes of tax giveaways to big corporations and the richest few, at the expense of the rest of us.

“The secrecy surrounding the Leader’s Club is very disturbing and shows you can’t trust the Tories. People deserve to know who is buying access to the top of government and what they expect to get in return.

“If elected, Labour will take immediate action to bring transparency and fairness to political donations.”

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Jon Trickett’s letter to James Cleverly

Dear James,

Well over half of the £41.8m donated to Conservative Party HQ since the 2017 general election has come from donors belonging to the Leader’s Group, which you describe as “the premier supporter Group of the Conservative Party” and which has an annual membership fee of £50,000.

This is despite growing public concern that the Leader’s Group is a form of cash for access to government.

Your party has failed to honour previous promises to publish details of the Leader’s Group dinners on a quarterly basis. The last Leader’s Group update on your website is from the second quarter of 2018 – 18 months ago.

Your party’s secrecy on this matter adds to what is a deeply disturbing set of affairs and highlights the need for much greater transparency in how the Conservative Party handles its political donations and relationships with rich and powerful elites.

I am therefore calling on you to release the information from the last two quarters of 2018 and first two of 2019 immediately, and to commit to ensuring that this information is released on a quarterly basis in future.

This is the bare minimum the public deserve.

But if we are to restore faith in how our politics is funded and how we regulate the influence of vested interests, further action is needed.

In April the Prime Minister was judged to have exhibited an “over-casual attitude towards obeying the rules” on declaring financial interests as an MP, and in recent months there have been a string of high-profile conflict of interest scandals in which Conservative MPs and ministers have come under scrutiny.

Clearly the existing rules do not command enough respect or are not tough enough.

Labour has already announced a series of measures in its manifesto to clean up political donations and lobbying, and will announce further measures in the near future. I am asking that the Conservative Party follow in our lead.

Yours sincerely,

Jon Trickett
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

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