Tories in Trouble as Sunak Faces Pressure to Return £10 Million Donation

Amidst mounting controversy, Rishi Sunak is facing increasing pressure from within the Conservative party to return a £10 million donation following the donor’s controversial remarks. Here’s the full story.

Political Hot Water

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has found himself in considerable political hot water as pressure mounts from within the Conservative Party for him to return a £10 million donation from Frank Hester. 

This call from within the ranks of Sunak’s party stems from Hester’s controversial remarks about Diane Abbott, which have been condemned as racist and misogynistic. 

According to the Guardian, during a meeting in 2019, Hester reportedly expressed his deep disdain towards Abbott, stating, “It’s like trying not to be racist but you see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like I hate, you just want to hate all black women because she’s there, and I don’t hate all black women at all, but I think she should be shot.”

Dissent Growing

Despite Hester having apologised for the remarks, dissent is growing amongst the Conservative ranks, as some prominent Conservatives have broken ranks, openly questioning the ethical implications of retaining the donation. 

West Midlands mayor Andy Street and the Scottish Conservatives have called for the return of the £10 million, emphasising the need for accountability in political funding.

Street told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “I would think about the company I kept and I would give that money back.”

Carefully Review Donations

The Scottish Conservatives issued a statement denouncing the comments as “racist and wrong,” emphasising that the UK party “should carefully review the donations it has received from Hester in response to his remarks.”

Chris Patten, the Tory peer who was the last Governor of Hong Kong, told Times Radio: “If he’s made remarks which are racist, how can you in a reasonable way take 10 million smackers of his money?”

He continued, “It seems to me that it’s pretty open and shut, as people like Andy Street and others have said. So I think the sooner this is brought to an end the better.”

Ethical Dilemma

Keeping the £10 million donation poses a significant ethical dilemma for the Conservative party, as the funds are crucial for the upcoming election campaign. 

Still, the association with remarks deemed racist and offensive would be deeply damaging to the party’s already weakened image following other recent scandals.

Sayeeda Warsi, another Tory peer, cautioned over the optics of keeping the donation so close to the election, stating, “Elections fought on the money of donors who make racist and offensive statements makes for dangerous election campaigns.”

“Remorse Should be Accepted”

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Sunak appeared desperate to keep the money, asserting that Hester had apologised for his comments about Diane Abbott and that “remorse should be accepted.”

Despite this attempt to hold onto the Conservatives’ much-needed donation, Labour leader Keir Starmer lept on the Prime Minister’s apparent inaction, asking if Sunak was “proud to be bankrolled by someone using racist and misogynist language.”

Starmer said of Sunak, “He chose to anoint himself as the great healer, to pose as some kind of unifier. But when the man bankrolling his election says the member for Hackney North [Abbott] should be shot, he suddenly finds himself tongue-tied, shrinking in sophistry, hoping he can deflect for long enough that it will all go away.”

Starmer also attempted to contrast Sunak’s recent comments about rejecting extremism with his close relationship with Hester, who, under Sunak’s own definition of extremism as “undermining British values,” would themselves be considered an extremist. 

60% Agree

A public opinion poll conducted by campaign group 38 Degrees revealed widespread disapproval of political parties accepting donations from individuals linked to racist or offensive remarks, with 60% agreeing that keeping the donation was wrong. 

During his appearance before the Treasury select committee, Labour MP Angela Eagle questioned Chancellor Jeremy Hunt over whether the Conservatives would return the donation.

Hunt stated: “I don’t believe that someone should be cancelled for a comment they made in the past and for which they have apologised. That does not make the comments any less despicable and I don’t defend them.”

In response to Eagle’s suggestion that there were “no consequences if you’re rich,” Hunt remarked: “I think the consequences, in terms of public shaming, of what he’s done have been pretty significant, actually.”

Delicate Balance

As the controversy continues to grow, Sunak is faced with managing the delicate balance between political expediency and personal integrity. 

The pressure on Rishi Sunak to return Frank Hester’s £10 million donation reflects a broader reckoning within the Conservative party and their recent foray into language that many have decried as racist or Islamophobic.

The post Tories in Trouble as Sunak Faces Pressure to Return £10 Million Donation first appeared on Pulse365.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alan Fraser Images.

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