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By Tobias Ellwood
By Ben Guerin
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Tories raked in record-breaking £37m in donations ahead of election as Labour got less than £10m

2 min read

The Tories raked in a record-breaking £37 million in donations ahead of the election, almost four-times more than Labour.

The cash helped fuel a record year for political funding, with the Electoral Commission revealing a total of £113,119,000 was handed to parties in 2019.

That is £40 million more than in 2017, the previous highest total.

A staggering £70 million was given to parties in the three months running up to the general election on 12 December.

Almost half of that went to the Conservative Party, which took in £37,666,568 from 1,537 donations above the reporting threshold of £7,500, including a million pounds each from businessmen Peter Hargreaves and John Gore.

Meanwhile, Labour received just £9,833,863 in donations, along with £851,000 of public cash, known as “Short money” and given to opposition parties to help with their running costs.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party received 575 donations above the threshold, but around half their cash given to them came from the Unite trade union, including one £3 million lump sum in November.

But that was dwarfed by the £8 million given to the Lib Dems by Lord Sainsbury - the single largest contribution to a UK political party ever, beating the £5 million donated to the Tories by Sir Paul Getty ahead of the 2001 election.

This helped the Lib Dems leapfrog Labour into second place and register a total of £13,372,664.

The Brexit Party, which failed to return a single MP, was in fourth place after being given £7,150,000, with around £6.5million of that coming from former Tory donor Christopher Harborne.

The Green Party was handed £381,393, while the SNP only registered just £54,169 in donations, while Plaid Cymru got £70,000.

While there are no limits on how much money political parties can receive, there are rules on how much can be spent in election campaigns, with the figures on the 2019 poll due out later this year.

Louise Edwards from the Electoral Commission, said: “In the final three months of 2019, political parties reported accepting the highest value of donations in one quarter since our records began.

“The value of the donations accepted by parties in the last quarter exceeded the previous high, from 2017, by almost £28 million.

“While there is no limit to the value of donations political parties can accept, spending rules are in place during elections to keep the campaign fair.”

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