Billionaire donor endorses Labour for first time in ‘despair’ at Tories

UK

A billionaire donor who backed Boris Johnson at the last election said he will be voting for Labour next month because the Tories’ record has left him in “despair”.

Jon Caudwell, who founded Phones4U, gave half a million pounds to the Conservatives in 2019 to avoid what he called “the disaster that would have been Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street”.

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However, he said the “failures” of the three prime ministers in government since then, alongside Labour’s “transformation” under leader Sir Keir Starmer had led him to switch allegiance for the first time in his life.

Mr Caudwell said: “For many years now I have been rather despairing about the performance of the party that I have supported for the last 51 years: the Tories.

“Only five years ago, I donated half a million to the Conservatives to help avert the disaster that would have been Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

“But I’ve been increasingly critical of Tory failures since then, particularly over Rishi’s mismanagement of the economy during Covid, Boris’ lowering of ethical standards – and, of course, associated with that the accusation that Tory cronies benefited improperly regarding Covid PPE – and then the Liz Truss debacle.”

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Mr Caudwell said over the last two years especially, he has been “amazed by how Keir Starmer has transformed the Labour Party and brought it back from that Corbyn brink”.

“As I have always said, the government must be much more commercially minded to grow GDP in order to finance the public services that benefit all of society without increasing taxes.”

 Pic: PA
Image:
Starmer is projected to win a landslide. Pic: PA

He said he was “delighted” to see economic growth at the “front and centre” of Labour’s manifesto, and “that projected growth is clearly tied into making Britain a clean energy superpower”.

He added: “So, I can declare publicly that I will vote for Labour, and I encourage everybody to do the same.

“We need a very strong Labour Government that can take extremely bold decisions and you can rest assured that I will be doing my best to influence them wherever I can, in putting the great back in Britain.”

The news is a further boost for Sir Keir, who according to the latest election poll is on course for a 256-seat majority – the largest of any post-war government.

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If correct that would also plunge the Tories to their lowest number of MPs ever – a remarkable turnaround for the party that won a commanding 80-seat majority five years ago.

The announcement follows a recent meeting between Mr Caudwell and Sir Keir.

Sir Keir said: “I’m delighted that John, someone with such a successful track record in business, has today thrown his support behind the changed Labour Party that I lead.

“The message is clear: business backs change and economic stability with Labour, and rejects five more years of chaos and decline with the Tories.”

Sir Keir added: “John was not just a Conservative voter but a substantial donor to the Conservative Party in 2019 – so it’s not a decision that he will have taken lightly. But it’s clear that he shares my plan for growth that I set out in the Labour manifesto.

“I’m campaigning non stop between now and 4 July to win the votes of other people who have backed the Tories in the past but see change with Labour as the best future for Britain.”

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