Labour Demands Answers Over Tory Co-Chairman Ben Elliot’s Middle East Links
Ben Elliot has been Conservative party co-chairman since 2019 (Alamy)
Exclusive: Labour has written to foreign office minister James Cleverly seeking answers about Ben Elliot’s influence over foreign policy.
The Conservative party co-chairman has been accused of blurring the line between commercial and political activities amid claims he sought to give a party donor a role in the UK’s Middle East relations.
According to the Financial Times, Elliot has written to Saudi Arabian and Bahraini envoys to London about donor Mohamed Amersi’s ambitions to displace the party’s existing Middle East liaison group with his own venture.
But he reportedly failed to disclose that telecoms businessman Amersi was also a client of Elliot’s luxury concierge firm Quintessentially. The Conservative party has said that all donations were properly declared via the Electoral Commission.
Amersi plays a central role in the newly formed Conservative Friends of Middle East and North Africa (Comena) group, which is seeking to replace the Conservative Middle Eastern Council (CMEC).
Shadow Minister for the Middle East Wayne David has written to foreign office minister James Cleverly — who was Tory party co-chairman alongside Elliot before becoming a minister — to seek answers about his knowledge of Elliot’s activities and commercial ties.
“Like many others, I have been disturbed by the growing revelations about the actions of Ben Elliot as Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party,” the letter read.
He asked whether Cleverly or other ministers, including the foreign secretary, have met with Elliot or Amersi while in office, and whether Cleverly has raised Tory party ties in official meetings with his diplomatic counterparts.
In the letter, David also seeks guarantees that Tory donors such as Amersi “have played no role in shaping government policy toward the Middle East” and emphasises the essential need for “a clear dividing line between private interests and diplomatic conduct”.
Earlier this week, Labour party chair Anneliese Dodds called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sack Elliot following a string of revelations about his conduct and commercial activities.
She accused Elliot of having been allowed to “blur the lines between private business activities and his public responsibility”.
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