Boris Johnson has “serious questions to answer” over allegations that Tory donors were given privileged access to government, the Labour Party has said.
The government is facing accusations of “cash for access” after the Sunday Times revealed that a number of extremely wealthy Tory donors — some with links to Russian president Vladimir Putin — were given the contact details of ministers and advisers after submitting generous donations.
According to the report, a secretive “advisory board” of party donors met virtually with one of Johnson’s advisers, Eddie Lister, in May 2020, where concerns were raised about the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.
Among those reported to have a place on the board are Lubov Chernukhin, a former banker and the wife of Putin’s former deputy finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin.
It comes as the UK and other Western nations threaten Putin with severe economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine.
Asked about the Sunday Times report, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the government “has got serious questions to answer”.
“Donors have an enormous degree of influence over the policies and priorities of the Conservative government,” he told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme.
“There are questions... to answer on this and it’s important the public is sure the government is making the right decisions for the right reasons.”
He added: “We’re particularly concerned in the context of our discussion this morning about those individuals with links to president Putin’s regime, but this applies more broadly in terms of our politics, which is that it can’t just be big money donors that call the shots in our democracy.”
Streeting also accused the government of failing to take steps to “clean up our act at home” regarding Russian money in London in particular.
He said the government had not paid sufficient attention to a cross-party report by parliament’s intelligence security committee which accused the government of not doing enough to investigate or protect the UK from possible Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We can confirm that, on occasion, senior Conservative politicians, just like senior Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians, do in fact attempt to raise funds for the party they represent.”