We reported on Monday that the Conservative Party’s Finance Committee didn’t approve any payments made by it to support any legal costs incurred by Boris Johnson in relation to Jennifer Arcuri. It’s been asserted that the Party helped to fund these.
Members of the committee also say that it has not approved any Party payments that may have been made to help meet the costs of the Downing Street flat refurbishment.
It’s been reported that Lord Brownlow gave £58,000 specially for this purpose, at a time when there were discussions of setting up a trust to fund the work.
If that money was given to the Party to be passed on to the Prime Minister, should the Committee have been required to approve the arrangement in advance?
We believe that it should – especially since we’re now told that approval from the Committee is needed for any spending item of above £50,000.
Should approval also be required if the money was leant rather than given? Again, we believe that it should. But we are told that approval from the committee is sought only for donations, not loans “which don’t count as expenditure”.
David Davis told this site: “were a significant sum given or leant to anyone including the Party leader it should be approved by the Finance Committee in advance”.
Again, we stress that we’ve no objection to Party funds being used to support the Party leader – to cover, say, entertaining Tory MPs for party purposes; or travel costs; or, indeed, legal fees (in principle).
However, it doesn’t follow that we give carte blanche to the present arrangements by which such funding might be approved. Indeed, the more ConHome learns about them, the more troubled we become.
Part of this site’s founding purpose was to campaign for members’ rights and, as we keep writing, members control of the Party’s spending is so limited as scarcely to exist.
Some of this money comes from donors in larger sums and some in smaller – and givers include the less well-off activists who knock on doors, sell raffle tickets, and stand as candidates; as well as better-off ones who join Patrons Clubs’ or write relatively large cheques.
The former Brexit Secetary is right and, as we said yesterday, Board members “are asking questions about what happened”. They should insist that the Finance Committee consider loans as well as donations above a set level.