The Tories are facing yet another wave of sleaze allegations after it emerged that MPs and the party have taken nearly £1.5 million in donations from oil and gas bosses under Boris Johnson.
With hours to go until the end of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the revelations – revealed by the Mirror – will damage Johnson’s climate credentials.
Analysis of Electoral Commission records show donations stretching back to 2019 linking the Tories with oil and gas magnates – even as consumers are braced for massive hikes in their energy bills this winter.
Anneliese Dodds, chairwoman of the Labour Party, told the Mirror: “Boris Johnson needs to show some leadership and put an end to the sleaze running rampant through his party and the cash-for-access culture at the heart of his Government.
“Conservative MPs pocketing millions from vested interests can’t be acting in the national interest. It’s not a good look for the Prime Minister to claim commitment on moving past fossil fuels, but at the same time his own party is swimming in oil and gas money.
“We need a Government that puts people and planet first, not one that thinks there’s one rule for the Conservative Party and another for everyone else.”
Tory donors include Russian-born Alexander Temerko, the owner of Aquind, who handed more than £350,000 to a host of MPs – including former Cabinet ministers Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox.
Aquind reportedly plans to construct a £1.2 billion energy pipeline beneath the English Channel – and Temerko was spotted sitting with COP26 President Alok Sharma at an exclusive fundraiser for the Conservative Party earlier this year.
Ian Taylor, the former chief executive of Vitol, has also handed the party around £115,000 since 2019. The company he led until 2018 is a major supplier of North Sea crude oil.
Meanwhile a senior Conservative MP has said it is “plain wrong” for colleagues to be earning money as landlords of properties they own in London, while also taking taxpayers’ cash to pay their own rent.
The Times reported that 14 MPs were taking advantage of a loophole in the Parliamentary expenses scheme which means they can let their homes to tenants, and then claim for rent paid on a London rental property to live in.
The arrangement is permitted under Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) rules and many of those who claim are also critical of the system, claiming it ultimately costs taxpayers more, but that they are pushed into the arrangement as MPs are not allowed to claim mortgage interest payments as expenses.
Former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox is one of those who claims for rental income while owning a London home.
As an MP with a constituency outside London, he is entitled to claim accommodation costs for staying in the capital.
Until 2017 he was claiming between £8,000 and £9,000 a year in “associated costs”, such as utility bills and service charges on a property he owned.
But from 2018 his claims rose to £22,000 a year after he moved into a rented property.
At the same time, his declaration in the Register of Members’ Interests showed that from November 2017 he was collecting more than £10,000 a year renting out a residential property in London.
‘Against the spirit of what’s happening’
North Thanet MP Sir Roger was asked about the set-up on Times Radio.
He said: “Well, I think the situation that you’ve described if it is correct, is plain wrong. It’s wholly maybe within the regulations, but it’s wholly against the spirit of what is happening.
“The intention was not that you should rent one place and hire let out another. The intention was that you have to have – and you do have to have – a second base. If you’re a Member of Parliament, there’s no doubt about that. You’ve got to go and sleep somewhere.
“We don’t sit late at night as we used to, that’s certainly true. But nevertheless, most members of Parliament from most parts of the country can’t get home at night. So you have to have somewhere to stay.
“I rent a room at a friend’s flat for about a quarter of the allowance that I’m allowed to spend because it’s congenial. And it’s value for money, as far as I’m concerned it’s value for taxpayers’ money because it is taxpayers’ money. And we need to remember that.”