Minister defends Russia-linked donations to Tory party amid Ukraine crisis

20 February 2022, 12:10 | Updated: 20 February 2022, 14:58

By Seán Hickey

The Foreign Office Minister for Europe and North America tells LBC that all donations to the Conservatives are 'legitimate' and in no way influence government policy.

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Conservative MP James Cleverly joined Tom Swarbrick to reflect on ongoing tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border, as intelligence suggests an invasion by Putin is "imminent".

On the question of sanctions, Tom wondered whether the Conservatives could effectively stand by sanctions amid reports of Russian donations to the party in recent times.

Read more: Leaked docs show wealthy Tory donors put on PM's 'secret advisory board' during pandemic

"People donate to the Conservative party because they support our aims or objectives. Conservative party policy, unlike labour party policy, has never been dictated by our political donors."

Tom mentioned Lubov Chernukhin, a dual Russian and British national who has been named in a report revealing that Conservative party donors who donate more than £250,000 gained access to the government's top team.

Mrs Chernukhin is the wife of Russian businessman and former Finance Minister to Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Chernukhin. Mrs Chernukhin is the largest female donor in British political history, having donated £2 million to the Conservatives from 2012 to 2020.

Read more: 'Buckle up': 'Desperate' Putin will drag out Ukraine border crisis, ex-Russian minister claims

Read more: Tory Party's Top Donor Gives Brutal Assessment Of Boris Johnson

"How can my listeners, who might not have a quarter of a million quid lying around, how can they sit on an advisory board to Downing Street?"

"Everyone can feed their ideas into their local MP" Mr Cleverly began. "But not straight into Downing Street unless they've got a quarter of a million", Tom interrupted.

"All our donors are registered, are legitimate", the Minister insisted, before defending Mrs Chernukhin's donations: "She has every right to donate to us or any other political party."

"Do they have a right to feed ideas via a board...where they've got access to senior people in Downing Street?" Tom asked. Mr Cleverly struggled to understand what he was asking.

"I'm trying to work out what you're suggesting is wrong", he said, reminding Tom that "political parties do need donations to keep themselves running."

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