British PM Boris Johnson's party raises 26 times more in donations than opposition Labour

Boris Johnson (right) visits a construction site in Bedford, Britain, as part of his election campaign.
Boris Johnson (right) visits a construction site in Bedford, Britain, as part of his election campaign.PHOTO: PAWIRE/DPA

LONDON (REUTERS) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party raised 26 times more in political donations than the main opposition Labour Party in the first week of the official British election campaign.

The Conservatives raised £5.7 million (S$10 million) in six days from Nov 6 while Jeremy Corbyn's Labour raised just £218,500 ahead of the Dec 12 vote, the Electoral Commission said.

Of all the donations made to the political parties in the period, 87 per cent went to the Conservatives.

Johnson's ability to pull in such large donations underlines his popularity and boosts his party, which is already ahead in the polls.

But it could also help Labour renew its charge that the Conservatives are home to billionaires, bankers and big business.

Labour even trailed two of the smaller parties in the fundraising stakes, although it tends to raise more money from smaller donations that fall below the Electoral Commission's £7,500 notification threshold.

"While the Conservative Party is in the pockets of vested interests and the super-rich, we are proud that the Labour Party is funded by hundreds of thousands of people donating what they can afford to build a fairer society," Labour chairman Ian Lavery said in response to the figures.

The biggest Conservative backer was John Gore, a developer, producer and distributor of Broadway theatre, who gave £1 million.

The next three largest were the travel company Trailfinders, Countrywide Developers and WA Capital, who each gave £500,000 to the party.

The party also received £200,000 from Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of a former Russian minister, the Electoral Commission said. Howard Shore of Shore Capital donated £250,000 and hedge fund manager Andrew Law gave £200,000.

Labour's biggest donation came from the Unite union.

Separately the party's left-wing campaigning arm Momentum said it had raised over £450,000 since the start of the campaign, made up of small donations.

Labour also boasts many more members than the Conservatives who can help campaign door-to-door in the run-up to the vote.

For the smaller parties, the pro-EU Liberal Democrats raised £275,000 as a whole in the Nov 6-12 period. Nigel Farage's Brexit Party raised £250,000 from a single donation from businessman Jeremy Hosking.

At the end of last year, the Conservatives posted their first deficit in eight years and were in a worse financial position than Labour, according to annual accounts published in August.

However the party raised more than Labour earlier this year as it became apparent that Britain was set to hold another election, while Johnson himself broke the record for the most money raised by a British politician in his bid to become prime minister earlier this year.