The prime minister spoke in “London’s finest 18th-century aristocratic palace” – in the presence of a prominent Russian-born donor – hours before Vladimir Putin deployed his forces to Ukraine. He is said to have left early to deal with the war
Boris Johnson was today accused of being a “national security threat” after it was revealed he attended a Tory party fundraiser on the night Russia invaded Ukraine.
The prime minister spoke at the event, which included fine wine, food and an auction on February 28, as Vladimir Putin’s troops prepared to attack.
According to the Sunday Times, donors to the celebration included Lubov Chernukhin, the banker and wife of a former Russian deputy finance minister.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Leveling Up Secretary Michael Gove were also at the event, sources said.
The prime minister reportedly asked donors to continue funding the party before saying he had to leave to “manage the war”.
Downing Street told the Sunday Times he was only there for 20 minutes and was only informed of the invasion at 4am.
But Labor Party leader Anneliese Dodds said: “On the eve of war, the Prime Minister should have been fully focused on national security – and not trying to get money from the wife of Putin’s former finance minister.
“Boris Johnson’s party has accepted over £6.5million from donors linked to Putin’s murderous regime.
“He should clean up our politics and not ask these people for more money.
“Boris Johnson is a threat to national security.”
According to the Sunday Times, the event took place at Spencer House, a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, which bills itself as “London’s finest 18th-century noble palace available for hire for exclusive London events”.
A Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister briefly attended what has been a long-standing diary engagement.
“Fundraising is a legitimate part of our democratic process and it is not uncommon for the Prime Minister or any political leader to attend such an event.”
Tory leaders have repeatedly faced calls for more transparency in dealing with big money donors.
Those who donate more than £50,000 can join a Leader’s Group where they enjoy meetings with ministers off the books. The government says the order is perfectly legal.
Participants in Leader’s Group Dinners were released in 2012 after a dispute over former Tory leader Peter Cruddas’ fundraising techniques.
But the Tories stopped publishing these details under Boris Johnson, who made Lord Cruddas a peer against the advice of the House of Lords’ appointment process.
Conservative bosses have also set up an even more elite “advisory committee” for those who donate £250,000 but refuse to say what level of access they enjoy to ministers.
Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir served as President Putin’s deputy finance minister before coming to the UK, has repeatedly paid for access to successive prime ministers, including a cozy evening with him Teresa May and a tennis match with Boris Johnson.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Ms Chernukhin, who is a British citizen and has been legally entitled to make political donations since 2012.
She recently donated £13,750 to the Tories in October and £66,500 in December.
The Mirror understands the first payment was for a table at the party’s infamous Black and White Ball fundraiser, where wealthy benefactors can meet senior ministers and MPs Boris Johnson clatters with his donation box to supplement the party coffers.
The second donation will be deemed a winning bid at the event’s auction, where the party will sell access to cabinet ministers to the highest bidder.
In total, Ms Chernukhin has donated almost £2million to the party – and is the biggest female political donor in British history.
A Tory spokesman said: “From Salisbury to Ukraine, this Conservative government has stood resolutely against Russian aggression and has led international efforts against Russia from the start, and it is frankly ridiculous for The Sunday Times to claim otherwise.
“It was a long-term commitment. Fundraising is a legitimate part of our democratic process, a process that should not be stopped because of Putin.
“The Sunday Times claim that people who have been vocal in their criticism of Putin, and in some cases have had to flee Russia, are linked to that regime simply by their origins is utterly false.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-branded-national-security-26511271 Boris Johnson branded an "imminent threat to national security" at a fundraiser hours before the war in Ukraine