It can be difficult now to cast one’s mind back to the beginning of last month, when the field for next Tory leader was wide open and an exciting array of candidates were jostling for attention. Among them, of course, was Tom Tugendhat, the great bright hope of the One Nation group. He crashed out in fifth but there is one aspect in which he appears to have been the winner of this contest: his recorded donations have blown his rivals out of the water.
According to the register of MPs’ interests, the most recent returns show Tugendhat receiving donations worth more than £123,000 for the sole purpose of his leadership campaign. For context, Kemi Badenoch, who finished fourth, received just £12,500 from Longrow Capital and Joanne Black while Suella Braverman, who came sixth, got £10,000 from First Corporate and a £2,000 discount on digital services from consultants Ethan R Wilkinson Ltd. Millionaire Rishi Sunak meanwhile listed just £3,195 in office space for his campaign from Bridge Consulting Ltd. Neither Liz Truss nor Penny Mordaunt are yet to declare any donations in their entries.
More than £42,000 of Tugendhat’s six-figure sum came from Policy Focus Ltd, a company registered on 27 June, just a fortnight before Boris Johnson’s resignation. Its chairman is Sir Christian Sweeting, a former Tory prospective parliamentary candidate once charged with possession of a firearm and now a trustee of the Vatican City State endowment. Ian Mukherjee also gave £50,000 while foreign investment group InvestUK Group Ltd donated £6,000.
But it was the £25,000 donation of Beacon Rock Ltd which caught Steerpike’s eye: the company’s sole director is Sir Mick Davis, the former chief executive of the Conservative party. Clearly, despite such elite backing, even TT could only go so far…