• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Boris Johnson's Conservative Party is heavily bankrolled by the property sector, new figures show

·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson Getty
  • Boris Johnson's Conservatives took more than £60 million from the property sector in the last decade.

  • This is more than one-fifth of all reportable donations received by the party, the highest ratio of any UK party.

  • Campaigners say the financial reliance puts ministers "under pressure to provide exclusive access."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Boris Johnson's Conservative Party has an "unhealthy financial reliance" on donations from the property sector, campaigners have warned, as they revealed new figures setting out the scale of support given to the party.

The research by Transparency International UK found that between January 2010 and March 2020, £60.8 million was given to the Conservatives from individuals and companies within the property sector.

This figure is more than a fifth of the reportable donations received by the Conservatives, the highest ratio of any political party in the UK.

Much of that money came from a small number of individuals, with one in every ten pounds of reported donations to Conservative Party HQ between 2015 and 2019 coming from just ten donors.

Duncan Hames, a former Liberal Democrat MP and Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, told Insider: "While it is no secret that political parties receive much of their funding from a relatively small number of donors, the extent to which the Conservative Party depends financially on those with major property interests is of serious concern.

"An unhealthy financial reliance on those with vested interests in one sector puts ministers under pressure to provide exclusive access which creates a real risk that decisions are skewed in their favour. Breaking this dependence is key to removing the risk of undue influence and freeing government to explore bolder solutions to address the housing crisis."

Ties between the Conservative Party and the property sector is not limited to donations, with hundreds of meetings reported between ministers and groups lobbying on property issues.

Transparency International UK's analysis of government reports of ministerial meetings found there were 669 meetings to discuss housing issues between January 2017 and March 2020.

Individual Conservative MPs also have strong links to the sector. Insider reported last month that the former Welsh Secretary minister Alun Cairns held meetings with a Singaporean firm that owned a £500 million property empire leased to the UK government. Since leaving his ministerial post, he has taken a £30,000 a year job with the firm.

Anneliese Dodds MP, chair of the opposition Labour Party, said: "It's no wonder the Conservatives are resisting more transparency on property ownership, when party coffers are stuffed full of so much cash from major overseas property tycoons.

"This is yet another example of how the rules around transparency for lobbying ministers aren't fit for purpose. We need to know who is lobbying ministers, what they want from government and what is discussed when they meet.

"We need urgent reform. It cannot be the case that it is one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else."

Duncan Hames said: "Access and potentially influence in UK politics remains woefully opaque. We know more about those seeking to shape planning decisions in rural Ireland than we do about private interests trying to shape decisions and housing policy in Whitehall.

"Time and time again we see government departments failing to follow their own transparency rules while the limited statutory register of consultant lobbyists only paints a tiny part of this picture. A major overhaul of the UK's lobbying rules is needed to increase transparency and ensure there are fewer corners for impropriety to hide."

The group proposes an end to the influence of big donors in politics by introducing a £10,000 limit on donations from individuals and companies per donor per year.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: "Government policy is in no way influenced by the donations the Party receives - they are entirely separate.

"Donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law. Fundraising is a legitimate part of the democratic process. The alternative is more taxpayer-funding of political campaigning, which would mean less money for frontline services like schools, police and hospitals.

"The Conservative Party is delivering on its manifesto commitments to deliver more homes, with new housing supply having risen to its highest levels for 30 years. Working with the housing industry is an essential part of getting new homes built and regenerating brownfield land."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting