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Tory law change would let donors bankroll party from tax havens for life


Currently there is a 15 year limit on British ex-pats being allowed to vote and donate to political parties. Boris Johnson wants to scrap that – allowing millionaire donors to give cash to his party from overseas beaches without ever returning to the UK

The PM was accused of “bending the rules” for wealthy overseas donors

A new law will allow one of the Tories’ biggest donors to keep bankrolling the party for life, despite having reportedly lived in the Bahamas for a decade.

John Gore, has given almost £4.2 million to the Conservative Party, making him the Tories’ number one donor despite having spent “more than a decade away” from the UK.

Now Boris Johnson ’s Tories have been accused of “bending the rules to benefit themselves” with a new Elections Bill, which allows donors who live in tax havens to fund political parties indefinitely.

Currently donors can only fund parties from abroad for 15 years – but this will be abolished under the Elections Bill, which returns to the Commons on Monday.

The most recent Companies House records for Mr Gore, published this year, list him as resident in the Bahamas.

The theatre impresario, whose firm produced Tony Award-winning broadway musicals such as Dear Evan Hansen and Angels in America, has become one of the Conservative Party’s biggest donors, giving almost £4.2 million over the last decade – including more than £1.5m in 2018 alone.

He confirmed in a 2019 interview that he had moved to the Bahamas “a decade ago”, and was a neighbour of Sir Sean Connery.

John Gore has been a major Tory donor in recent years


Getty Images)

“I have chosen to stick my head into the mad world of politics when it is at its maddest,” he told The Sunday Times – admitting that he sought to use his cash to change British politics from the outside.

He said: “I am a British citizen with an outside eye. It’s not unlike being a director.

“I can see this show is really going wrong — that it’s going to crash. I hope I can do something to get it back into shape and help it flourish.”

Labour ’s Shadow Minister for Democracy, Cat Smith said: “This is yet another example of the Conservatives bending the rules to benefit themselves.

“Instead of focusing on our recovery from the pandemic the Government is using the cover of the pandemic to rig democracy in their favour and change the rules so super-rich donors can bankroll the Conservative Party from the beaches of tax havens.”

Labour plan to vote against the bill this week, when it returns to the Commons for its’ second reading, branding it an assault on democracy.

Cat Smith, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Democracy


Daily Mirror)

Along with tearing up rules on ‘non-dom’ donors, the bill introduces draconian new photo ID rules for voters and clips the wings of the Electoral Commission – even as it investigates the financing of Mr Johnson’s flat refurbishment.

Ms Smith added: “There is no possible justification for changing this law other than to open a loophole so that Conservative donors can continue to funnel money into the Conservative Party.

“These changes threaten the integrity of our elections and give the wealthy friends of Conservative Ministers unlimited access to our democracy. They must be stopped.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Electoral law already allows for registered British expatriates to vote in UK Parliamentary elections and also to make donations. The changes within this Bill will simply scrap the arbitrary 15 year limit on these rights.

“UK electoral law sets out a stringent regime of donations controls to ensure that only those with a legitimate interest in UK elections can donate to political parties.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “British expats increasingly retain strong links with the United Kingdom and this is about British citizens abroad remaining part of our democracy and having their say in Parliamentary elections.”

The spokesperson also noted Labour’s International branch had called on party leadership to support the government’s so-called “votes for life” policy.

Mr Gore was approached for comment.

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