Tory donor pays £120,000 to have dinner with Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron

·5 min read
Tory donor pays £120,000 to have dinner with Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron
Tory donor pays £120,000 to have dinner with Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron

A Tory donor has paid £120,000 to have a joint dinner with Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron.

The prize of sitting around a table for a meal with the last three British prime ministers was auctioned at the controversial Conservative Party summer fundraising ball on Monday night.

The event was attended by Johnson, chancellor Rishi Sunak, home secretary Priti Patel, foreign secretary Liz Truss, health secretary Sajid Javid and a host of wealthy Tory party donors.

Johnson managed to attend the event despite having a "minor routine operation related to his sinuses" under general anaesthetic at a London hospital on Monday morning.

But there was criticism of the lavish ball at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where a table of 10 people cost £20,000, at a time when Britain is in the grip of a cost of living crisis.

Members of the museum's Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), campaigning for better pay, protested at the front entrance, booing some politicians, such as culture secretary Nadine Dorries, and business people as they arrived.

Watch: Nadine Dorries booed as she arrives at Tory fundraiser

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Labour MP and former shadow chancellor John McDonnell joined the protesters, and tweeted that the "Tories have no shame".

He said the prime minister and his party were "using our museum as a venue for £20,000 a table fundraiser for their wealthy donors at a time when people are struggling to feed their children and make ends meet and are facing pay cuts".

There had been criticism of the event even before it began, with Conservative Party co-chairman Ben Elliot accused by Labour of abusing his position as a trustee of the V&A.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Conservative party donors run the gauntlet of booing protestors as members of the PCS Trade Union whom work in the culture sector protest at The V&A against the building being used for a Conservative Party fundraiser on June 20, 2022 in London, England. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is made up of Government workers including civil servants. Earlier in the Spring, Boris Johnson announced 91,000 job cuts across the civil service with Secretaries of state asked to prepare plans for redundancies across their departments by 30 June. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty images)
Conservative party donors were booed by PSC union members as they arrived for the summer fundraising ball at the V&A Museum. (Getty)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: John McDonnell and Members of the PCS Trade Union whom work in the culture sector protest at The V&A against the building being used for a Conservative Party fundraiser on June 20, 2022 in London, England. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is made up of Government workers including civil servants. Earlier in the Spring, Boris Johnson announced 91,000 job cuts across the civil service with Secretaries of state asked to prepare plans for redundancies across their departments by 30 June. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty images)
Labour MP John McDonnell, left, and members of the PCS union protest outside the Conservative Party's Summer Ball at the V&A Museum on Monday. (Getty)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Members of the PCS Trade Union whom work in the culture sector protest at The V&A against the building being used for a Conservative Party fundraiser on June 20, 2022 in London, England. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is made up of Government workers including civil servants. Earlier in the Spring, Boris Johnson announced 91,000 job cuts across the civil service with secretaries of state asked to prepare plans for redundancies across their departments by 30 June. (Photo by Ricky Vigil/Getty Images)
Members of the PCS union protest at the V&A against the building being used for a Conservative Party fundraiser on Monday. (Getty)

The government's own Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies states: "In your public role, you should be, and be seen to be, politically impartial.

"You should not occupy a paid party political post or hold a particularly sensitive or high-profile role in a political party."

Labour has also called for Elliot to be sacked over his alleged links to Russia.

The meal with Johnson, May and Cameron, billed as the "dinner of the century", was one of a number of auction items, the Politico website reported.

These included an African safari trip that sold for £65,000, a shooting weekend that fetched £37,000, a wine tasting that raised £30,000 and some tickets to watch Chelsea play Arsenal for £5,000.

The £120,000 paid for a meal with the past three prime ministers was still a long way short of the £300,000 that dinner with Johnson alone fetched in 2019 just before he got the job.

Conservative leader David Cameron (left) with Tory candidate for London Mayor Boris Johnson arrive for a press conference to launch a Conservative policy paper on Crime Mapping, in central London.
Former prime minister David Cameron and the current incumbent of Number 10, Boris Johnson. (PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as she holds the first Cabinet meeting since the General Election with her reshuffled team at 10 Downing Street in London.
Theresa May and Boris Johnson have not always seen eye to eye. (PA)

The prospect of Johnson, May and Cameron sitting around a dinner table together, however, remains a tantalising one.

May would find it hard to resist, as she has done in the House of Commons, a few jabs at Johnson's handling of Brexit, given his resignation as foreign secretary over the issue while she was prime minister.

Johnson, in turn, may wish to raise his predecessor's criticism of his style in a Daily Mail article last year, in which she accused him of abandoning Britain's "position of global moral leadership".

May also had a pop at Johnson at the beginning of this year over the Partygate scandal, saying in the Commons: “The COVID regulations imposed significant restrictions on the freedoms of members of the public.

"They had a right to expect their prime minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules and indeed those around him to have done so too and to set an example in following those rules."

Prime Minister Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron during a service of thanksgiving for the life and work of former Cabinet Secretary Lord Heywood at Westminster Abbey in London.
Former prime ministers Theresa May and David Cameron together in 2019. (PA)

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At least the pair could bond over the shared experience of facing a vote of no confidence among their own party. May only managed to remain prime minister for six more months after winning her confidence vote in December 2018, but how long will Johnson last following his vote win two weeks ago?

If Johnson and May do tire of sparring over the dinner table, they can always turn on Cameron, perhaps asking him what he's been up to since leaving Number 10.

He will probably be happy to talk about his recent humanitarian efforts, driving to Poland to help donate goods to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

He may be less willing to discuss a Treasury committee report last year that found he showed a "significant lack of judgment" when lobbying the government on behalf of financial services company Greensill Capital.

If the trio do ever manage to make it around the same dinner table, will any of them make it to dessert?

Watch: Conservative Party MPs heckled as they arrive at summer fundraising ball

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