Gifts given to British MPs unwrapped in public

Sky News TV channel and news site Tortoise have, at the beginning of January, made available to the public a new tool: a database recording the sums received by the parliamentarians present in Westminster since December 12, 2019 (date of the last British legislative elections), amounts which are added to their elected remuneration.

Gifts, loans, donations, name or business name of fund providers… the two media have compiled public data previously published over time by the electoral commission or the register of financial interests of members of Parliament.

This new device is a mine of information for journalists and experts, but also a source of embarrassment for elected officials. Because almost all of them benefit from rather accommodating rules which authorize them to receive donations without limit of amount, and this whatever their origin, provided that they come from “authorized” donors. In other words, almost any entity or individual subject to being registered in the United Kingdom or appearing on the electoral rolls of the country.

The Westminster Accounts database has therefore quantified the amount received individually, since the end of 2019, by the 650 Westminster MPs: i.e. 17.1 million pounds sterling (19.3 million euros), the bulk of which ( £15.2million) benefited a handful of elected officials, mostly Tories. Notably because the Tories are the most numerous (356), after Boris Johnson’s historic victory. “This helps to understand why the Conservatives have so little interest in limiting the ability of elected officials to carry out an activity alongside their mandate”, notes Hannah White, director of the independent research group Institute for Government.

Labor is no exception

Former prime ministers Theresa May and Boris Johnson are by far those who have received the largest donations and income, with 2.8 million pounds for Theresa May, solicited for generously paid speeches. His counterpart only left Downing Street in September 2022, but he also benefits from the “speech circuit”: he has already received around 1.2 million pounds thanks to conferences in the United States, Portugal, Singapore … In addition, among its generous donors is Lord Bamford, chairman of the construction group JCB, which allows Boris Johnson to enjoy free accommodation estimated at several million pounds in Knightsbridge, an upscale London district.

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