£300k gets you din­ner with new PM

Daily Mail - - News - By John Stevens Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

‘A night out with Mrs May’

THE Con­ser­va­tive Party has al­ready sold ac­cess to the next prime min­is­ter to donors for £300,000.

At an ex­clu­sive party fundraiser, offi­cials raised the six- fig­ure sum by sell­ing din­ner with the new leader be­fore they have even been cho­sen.

The sale of the auc­tion prize at the Tory sum­mer party will raise fresh ques­tions about cash for ac­cess.

Din­ner for ten people with the new leader – Boris John­son or Jeremy Hunt – was of­fered dur­ing an auc­tion at a pri­vate mem­bers’ club in West Lon­don on Wed­nes­day evening.

A Tory source last night said: ‘ The next prime min­is­ter is be­ing pimped out be­fore they’ve even got the job.’

The din­ner was one of sev­eral lots sold off to boost party cof­fers at the event held at the Hurling­ham Club on the banks of the River Thames. Those at the sum­mer party in­cluded Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and Mr John­son and Mr Hunt.

Other Cab­i­net Ministers at the lav­ish event were party chair­man Brandon Lewis, de facto deputy prime min­is­ter David Lid­ing­ton, Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock, Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd, and En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove.

Lots in the auc­tion also in­cluded a pho­to­graph of Mr John­son and David Cameron signed by both men, a day trip for nine people on a pri­vate jet to any des­ti­na­tion in Europe, and tick­ets to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

One donor paid £40,000 for a pri­vate cham­pagne party for 100 people at The Lon­don Cabaret Club in Blooms­bury, cen­tral Lon­don, while another bid £15,000 for a hunt­ing trip to Scot­land.

A walk with In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Rory Stew­art, a wine tour with Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Damian Hinds, a meal with Mr Han­cock and a din­ner with de­fence min­is­ter To­bias Ell­wood were also on sale.

It is not known who suc­cess­fully bid for the din­ner with the next Tory leader.

In May the party faced crit­i­cism af­ter it emerged that the wife of one of Vladimir Putin’s for­mer ministers en­joyed a night out with Mrs May and six fe­male mem­bers of her Cab­i­net af­ter she bid a six-fig­ure sum at a Tory fundraiser.

Lubov Ch­er­nukhin, who is mar­ried to a for­mer Rus­sian deputy fi­nance min­is­ter, was en­ter­tained by the Prime Min­is­ter at the five- star Gor­ing Ho­tel. The banker paid £135,000 for the din­ner as an auc­tion prize at the party’s an­nual Black and White ball ear­lier this year.

The cash took Mrs Ch­er­nukhin’s dona­tions to the Tories over the past seven years past the £1mil­lion mark. De­spite crit­i­cism, Mrs May in­sisted the gift was above board be­cause Mrs Ch­er­nukhin is now a UK cit­i­zen.

Sir Alis­tair Gra­ham, for­mer chair­man of the Committee on Stan­dards in Pub­lic Life, joined op­po­si­tion par­ties in call­ing for the Tories to re­turn the cash.

They are thought to be fac­ing a fund­ing cri­sis as a num­ber of donors have been de­terred be­cause of Brexit and in­ter­nal party wran­gling.

Sir Mick Davis, the chief ex­ec­u­tive and trea­surer of the party, is thought to have been forced to reach into his own pocket to cover some of the costs of the Euro­pean elec­tions ear­lier this year.

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