This morning, it was the turn of former party chairman Brandon “barrow boy” Lewis to represent the Tories on The Andy Marr Show™, and among the questions put to him was one on the source of his party’s funds. His answer suggests that either he is in need of the nearest extinguisher, or that his definition of “Russian” has been selectively applied.
Marr put it to Lewis directly. “Has there been Russian money funding the Conservative Party in this election campaign?” What say the former chair, who might be expected to know these things? “No. The funding for the Conservative Party comes from people who are declared to the Electoral Commission and are British Citizens. And it is quite right that anyone who is a British citizen has a right to play their part in our country’s politics, and to donate to a political party if they want to”. Note use of “British Citizens” there.
That may or may not include those who have dual nationality, or who have become British citizens after previously being citizens of another country. The Russian money rebuttal did not impress former BBC stalwart John Sweeney, who said simply “That is not true”. Nick Stevenson added “Has Brandon Lewis actually met his party's treasurer, Udi Sheleg? Maybe he should read Private Eye”. Sheleg’s schmoozing of Russians is well known.
David Schneider was equally unimpressed. “‘We received no Russian money for this campaign’ says party that received £489,850 from Russian donors in the past year, £3.5m since 2010 and suppressed Russia report pointing that out”. Ah yes, the report that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is so reluctant to release.
But we can get some idea of the people involved and amounts of money going into the Tory Party, thanks to Adam Bienkov’s Business Insider article last month titled “Boris Johnson's Conservative Party election campaign funded by wife of former Putin ally”.
Here, he tells “Boris Johnson's Conservative Party election campaign received a six-figure donation from the wife of a former finance minister and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin … The prime minister's party received £5.7 million in donations in the first week of the campaign, mostly from senior business figures and hedge funds, more than 25 times the amount raised by the opposition Labour Party”. And more specifically?
“One of the largest single donors was Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of the Russian oligarch Vladimir Chernukhin. She donated £200,000 to the Conservative campaign. Chernukhin previously paid £160,000 for a tennis match with Johnson and £135,000 for a night out with former Prime Minister Theresa May”. Which sounds rivetingly exciting. Perhaps.
There is more. “Among those donors named in the report is Alexander Temerko, who worked for the Russian defense ministry and has previously boasted that the prime minister is his ‘friend’, The Sunday Times said. Temerko has donated more than £1.2 million to the Conservatives in seven years, according to the report … The committee also reportedly heard concerns about Alexander Lebedev, a former Russian spy who owns the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers”. And his parties, perhaps.
Like the one that Bozo attended while Foreign Secretary, having left his Metropolitan Police close protection team behind in the UK. There is, of course, one way of settling this question, and that is to release the Russia report. Otherwise, the suspicion will linger.
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