Boris Johnson’s reluctance to come clean about donors that get to meet him may be explained by the contents of the Pandora papers
Boris Johnson’s government has displayed a penchant for ignoring standards of openness, attacking key democratic institutions and subverting governance norms. Mr Johnson revels in thumbing his nose at convention. Last December he outrageously used his privilege as prime minister to ennoble a Conservative party donor who had been rejected by the Lords appointments commission. But repeat offending raises questions over whether such insouciance is meant to distract from allegations of sleaze.
This new model of party business seems to have coincided with the arrival of Ben Elliot as co-chair of the Conservative party. He raised a record £37m for the Tories’ 2019 general election campaign. The party is now refusing to publish the membership of secretive clubs for donors giving up to £250,000 a year that hold regular meetings with Mr Johnson and his chancellor. That reluctance may be explained by this week’s revelations in the Pandora papers. The documents shed new light on the use by some donors of offshore finance and how it lubricates capitalism in hydrocarbon-rich autocracies. Mr Johnson’s claim that donations were vetted “in the normal way” suggests the Conservatives aren’t that bothered about where their money comes from.