What DID these super-rich Tory donors have to say about Boris Johnson’s tax bombshell? REVEALED: PM and Rishi Sunak fled the Commons after key vote for a glittering fundraising event
- Boris Johnson appeared in a hurry after MPs voted for his social care reforms
- The PM left Westminster to spend the evening with billionaires and Tory donors
- After the vote, he headed to Hertford House, home to the Wallace Collection
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak arrived not long after to socialise with 70 Tory donors
It was perhaps unsurprising that Boris Johnson appeared in a hurry to escape from the House of Commons chamber as soon as MPs had voted in favour of his controversial social care reforms.
Not only had he risked the wrath of voters and Conservative colleagues alike by unveiling a package that leaves taxpayers facing a £36 billion bill, he had broken previously made commitments in the process.
But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Prime Minister actually bolted out of Westminster so he could spend the evening rubbing shoulders with billionaires, financiers and other wealthy Tory donors.
Within seconds of the result of the vote being announced at 7.28pm on Wednesday, Mr Johnson was out of his seat and walking briskly towards the door.
The Prime Minister bolted out of Westminster so he could spend the evening with billionaires, financiers and other wealthy Tory donors at an event at Hertford House (pictured)
Following a two-mile journey through Central London, he stepped out of his chauffeur-driven car minutes later in the courtyard of Hertford House, home to the famous Wallace Collection of art treasures.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak arrived soon afterwards.
The venue, which is packed with Old Masters and thousands of artefacts, promises a ‘taste of old world glamour in the heart of London’ to anyone willing to pay up to £12,000 to hire a room for a reception. It had been hired on this occasion by the Conservative Party Treasurer’s Group.
Around 70 donors were invited to mingle with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak. With guests arriving for drinks and canapés shortly before 7pm, one was heard saying: ‘They’re coming after the vote.’
Former Tory party treasurer Lord Howard Leigh gave a speech, followed by remarks from Mr Johnson, who was described as being in ‘ebullient’ form.
Other senior Tories in attendance included Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi and the PM’s chief of staff, Dan Rosenfield.
Meanwhile, the names on the guest list included British-Australian businessman Michael Hintze, whose net worth is estimated at £1.5 billion and who has donated millions to the Conservatives.
Malik Karim, the investment banker who founded Fenchurch Advisory Partners, was also present, as was Lord Rami Ranger, a businessman who has contributed more than £1 million to the party coffers and who received a peerage from Theresa May.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured arriving at the event) arrived soon afterwards after voting for Boris Johnson’s controversial social care reforms at the House of Commons
Yet while sources said Mr Johnson had the appearance of a leader at the height of his political power, the timing of the event is bound to raise questions about his judgment – coming as it did so soon after MPs had agreed to boost spending on the NHS and social care with a levy funded by National Insurance and dividend tax rises.
The event came after the Prime Minister performed a series of manoeuvres to outfox his opponents, including raising the threat of a Cabinet reshuffle to push through his plans to finally fix Britain’s social care crisis, which he had promised on the steps of Downing Street two years ago.
The huge political gamble meant breaking two manifesto pledges and increasing Britain’s tax burden to its highest level in 70 years to about 35.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product by the end of the Parliament.
Crucially, the move was seen by many traditional Tories as a final departure from low-tax Conservatism.
The plans, which had been closely guarded for months, were thrashed out between Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
The three had initially planned to announce the changes in July to coincide with Mr Johnson’s second anniversary as Prime Minister but that timetable was shelved when Mr Javid was diagnosed with Covid-19 and Mr Johnson was ‘pinged’, so both had to self-isolate.
Reports began to swirl in the final days of the summer recess that the plan would be unveiled as soon as Parliament returned.
Then details began to leak out, initially of the National Insurance hike, prompting a furious Tory reaction that young people would have to fund pensioners’ care.
Nothing was finalised at that point, however, with the Treasury keen to avoid effectively handing a blank cheque to the health service. Intensive talks were held last weekend, which Mr Johnson joined from Balmoral where he and his wife Carrie were visiting the Queen.
Key changes were introduced as a result of the backlash – a dividend tax rise was included in the final package so the wealthy would take more of the burden.
Around 70 donors (unknown donors pictured) were invited to mingle with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak at Hertford House, home to the famous Wallace Collection of art treasures
Meanwhile, it was decided that working pensioners would also pay the 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance.
It was also agreed that the pensions triple lock would also be suspended for a year, saving the Treasury billions. Mr Sunak attended a reception with backbench MPs last Monday and urged them to remain ‘loyal’ while party whips privately warned that a vote against Mr Johnson’s proposal would be taken as a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
Meanwhile, rumours began to circulate of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle. Well-placed sources say the threat of demotions and hope of promotions helped to muffle concerns in the Cabinet ranks.
When the plans were presented on Tuesday morning, only a handful of Ministers voiced concerns – including Trade Secretary Liz Truss, EU Relations Secretary Lord Frost and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg – who asked why the Government couldn’t borrow more money instead.
Mr Sunak said that would break the party’s pledge to voters to be fiscally responsible.
On the day of the vote, Mr Johnson met backbenchers at a meeting of the 1922 Committee – which consists of all backbench Tories.
Just five Tory MPs voted against the tax rise, while about three dozen others abstained.
When MPs flocked to the Commons Terrace after the vote, neither Mr Johnson nor Mr Sunak were there.
They were, instead, rubbing shoulders with super-rich donors.
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