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Carlton Club’s furlough funding

Carlton Club’s furlough funding
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Few of London’s private members clubs have a richer history than the Carlton. Founded in 1832 to oppose the Great Reform Act, its premises hosted the famous 1922 meeting which toppled Lloyd George, withstood Hitler’s bombers and entertained countless Tory politicians over decades. 

Even today the club continues to fundraise for the Conservative Party and has gifted lifelong membership to Cabinet ministers Gavin Williamson and Michael Gove plus former leaders Theresa May and Lord Hague.

Covid though appears to have represented a major challenge to the Carlton’s finances and philosophy. HMRC records show the £1,700-a-year establishment claimed between £195,000 and £400,000 between December 2020 and May 2021 under the coronavirus job retention scheme. This is despite the club’s most recent accounts up until the end of December 2019 showing that the Carlton had a surplus for the financial year of £168,000 and total equity of £4.1 million.

Throughout this period the Carlton continued its fundraising efforts for the Conservative party, registering donations to Tory MPs in marginal constituencies. A total of £17,500 was donated to MPs and associations in Don Valley, Ynys Môn, Ipswich, Heywood and Middleton and Stockton between May and December according to the register of members' interests. 

Runnymede and Weybridge MP Ben Spencer meanwhile registered £1,715 in membership discounts. As an unincorporated association, there is no way of tracing the original donors of this money. The Carlton did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Something for club members to toast the next time the Chancellor speaks there, perhaps?

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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