Donations to the Conservatives plummeted by 20 per cent following the ousting of Boris Johnson, new figures reveal.
The party’s takings from benefactors fell to just £2.9 million between July and September – the lowest total for two years – but the drop is partly explained by the summer leadership contest, with backers handing £870,000 to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
Tory members were angered by the move to usurp Mr Johnson, with one of the party’s biggest donors threatening to pull his funding. Lord Cruddas, who has given more than £3 million, said Conservative rules must be changed to stop another prime minister from being ousted in the same way.
The combined £3.8 million donated to the party and two leadership hopefuls last quarter still fell far below the average return under Mr Johnson. Between April and June, his last two months in office, the party received just under £4.8 million.
During the two and a half years for which he was in power, benefactors gave an average of £4.3 million every three months. Funding from backers under Mr Johnson peaked at £6.3 million in the first quarter of 2021.
Separately, the figures showed that Labour received more than half of its private donations from unions between July and September this year.
The party was handed £1.6 million by unions including Unite, which is organising walkouts by NHS workers, bus drivers and Heathrow ground handlers. Aslef, the train drivers’ union, gave £26,000 while the CWU, which represents postal workers, donated £109,000.
Senior Conservatives claimed the donations were a reason why the Labour leadership has been unwilling to openly condemn strikes over the Christmas period.
Nadhim Zahawi, the Tory chairman, said: “Spineless Keir Starmer refuses to condemn militant strikes wrecking Christmas because he’s in hock to his union baron paymasters propping up the Labour Party’s coffers.”
Labour raked in £2.8 million from backers overall, which was topped up by £1.9 million of public funding for the official opposition.
“Donors are coming back to Labour because they can see we are a changed party that is serious about getting into government and building a fairer, greener, more dynamic Britain,” said a party spokesman.
A Tory spokesman said: “The Conservative party only accepts donations from permissible sources, namely individuals registered on the UK’s electoral roll or UK registered companies. Donations are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, openly published by them and comply fully with the law.”