Brexit backers help PM candidate Johnson extend lead in funding battle

LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson has increased his funding lead over Jeremy Hunt in the race to become the next British prime minister, backed by financiers and businessmen who funded the campaign to leave the European Union.

FILE PHOTO: Boris Johnson, a leadership candidate for Britain's Conservative Party, visits the Thames Valley Police Training Centre in Reading, Britain, July 3, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Pool

With Johnson and foreign minister Hunt stepping up their campaigns to replace Theresa May, both are seeking to raise money to pay for the cost of hiring venues, transport, staffing costs, leaflets and advertising as they vie for the support of Conservative Party members.

Johnson has registered 235,000 pounds in the last two weeks, taking the total amount he has received in the last year to 502,000 pounds, according to new figures released by parliament.

By comparison, Hunt registered no additional donations in the last two weeks.

The figures show the majority of money donated to Johnsons campaign comes from hedge funds and financiers, which support Brexit, favour low taxes and the deregulation of the UK economy.

The donors are overwhelmingly white, wealthy, older men, according to an analysis by Reuters.

Johnsons relations with more traditional businesses have been strained in the last year after he was quoted as using a strong expletive to condemn business, in response to corporate concerns about the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the economy.

The throwaway phrase became a symbol of the strains between business leaders and the Conservative Party, which before the EU referendum was a bastion of pro-business positions.


An executive at one FTSE 100 company, whose CEO attended a recent business breakfast with Johnson, said the front-runner had sought to repair relations with business, but noted there was more risk associated with his position, due to his tougher stance over Brexit.

Tony Travers, a professor at the London School of Economics, said a certain number of affluent figures were willing to back Johnsons campaign now in the belief that he was the man to deliver their agenda – in this case Brexit.

However that did not necessarily mean they would hold huge sway if he gets into office. “Once hes prime minister theyve lost their toe-hold,” he said. “Boris Johnson is a politician who seems to be relatively comfortable with changing position on issues.”

The increase in donations comes after Johnson met hedge fund and private equity executives at a private members club two weeks ago to raise donations for his leadership campaign.

Rob Birley, the owner of 5 Hertford Street, a private members club in Londons wealthy Mayfair district, where Johnson met the donors, gave his campaign 20,000 pounds.

The largest overall donation to his campaign has come from the hedge fund manager Jon Wood, the founder of SRM Global, who has donated 75,000 pounds ($94,725), the register of lawmakers financial interests shows.

The most recent donations include 50,000 pounds from Peter Cruddas, one of the City of Londons most prominent Brexiteers, and 50,000 pounds from James Reuben, a financier.

Johan Christofferson, co-founder of U.S. hedge fund Christofferson Robb, has donated 36,000 pounds to the campaign, the register shows.

The register is updated every two weeks and the current entries run until July 1.

Johnson has so far raised the fourth-Read More – Source