Tories break Theresa May’s vow to ban Russian donors

Labour question Theresa May’s vow to stand up to Russia amid Tory funding revelations

Labour has questioned Theresa May’s willingness to stand up to Moscow amid revelations the Conservatives have taken hundreds of thousands in donations from wealthy Russians since she became Prime Minister.

Russian oligarchs have registered donations of more than £820,000 to the Tories since Theresa May took over in July 2016 according to The Sunday Times.

May promised to distance her party from Russian donors when she took office, with allies briefing that she would “sup with a long spoon” and the prime minister insisting there would not be a “business as usual” relationship with Moscow. However, the party has declared donations worth £826,100 from Russian-linked supporters since July 2016.

Last night May was under pressure to return the cash over the attempted nerve-agent murder of the Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last Sunday.

The paper found at least £253,950 came from Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of a former Moscow minister and a previous donor in September, while businessman Alexander Temerko, a former senior figure in Russia’s defence industry has handed the party £148,000 since 2016.

Overall the Tories have reportedly received more than £3m from Russian-linked tycoons, their companies and lobbyists since the coalition government came to power in 2010.

Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Griffith, said: “These revelations call into question how seriously Theresa May will be willing to challenge Russia’s conduct when her party is literally being bankrolled by some close allies of the Kremlin.”

Mrs May has already faced calls for tough sanctions from her own party, with Foreign Affairs committee chair Tom Tugenhadt calling for probes into unexplained wealth, while former minister Nick Boles said he did not see how diplomatic relations could be maintained.

The paper adds that Cabinet ministers have privately accused Mrs May of a “limp” approach to the assassination attempt and being “in denial” over Kremlin culpability.

Marina Litvinenko, the widow of the former Russian dissident Alexander, who was killed by the Russian state in 2006, said: “These donations are not just from the heart and for charitable reasons. They are all calculated.”

She added that the Conservative Party should put Britain’s national security interests “first”.

A Tory spokesperson said: “All donations are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission. We are looking at tightening our financial regimes to ensure the profits of corruption cannot flow from Russia into the UK.”

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