An exclusive poll by Omnisis for Byline Times reveals the overwhelming public appetite to see Russian donations to Boris Johnson’s party banned

An overwhelming majority of voters want the Conservatives to ban Russian donations to the party, according to an exclusive poll by Omnisis for Byline Times.

Amid the news that Vladimir Putin has launched an invasion of Ukraine, 75% of those surveyed said that the Conservatives should ban donations from Russian citizens.

A ban on Conservative-Russian donations is even supported by the vast majority (71%) of people who currently intend to vote for the Conservatives at the next general election – along with 80% who intend to vote for the Labour Party, and 79% of those who voted for Britain to leave the European Union in 2016.

The idea is supported by more than 70% of people in every region and nation of the UK, and every social group.

Indeed, the Conservative Party has been facing growing scrutiny over the scale of its Russian-linked donations. Some £2.3 million has been donated to the party from Russian sources since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019, with a quarter of the Cabinet receiving donations.

Reaching back further, the Conservatives have received more than £4.8 million in donations from seven wealthy Russian benefactors since 2012, according to research by The Citizens.

There is little hard evidence of direct ties between these Russian-linked donors and Vladimir Putin’s regime, though many have been in his orbit previously – as spelled out by John Sweeney in these pages.

Moreover, the Conservative Party is vague about the nature of the due diligence that it applies to prospective donors – merely vaguely asserting that it does not accept money from oligarchs.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has rightly warned that “that we don’t conflate people of Russian heritage and Russian background with people who are close to the Putin regime”. However, there is little proof that the Conservative Party has guarded against the corrupting influence of Russian money.

This is particularly the case given that donors gain political influence in exchange for their generosity. The Sunday Times recently reported that high-value Conservative donors were invited to participate in an ‘advisory group’ – during which they were allowed to bend the ear of the Prime Minister, senior ministers and officials.

83% of respondents to the Omnisis poll agreed that this story was an example of corruption – including 66% of people who intend to vote for the Conservatives at the next general election.

If nothing else, the flow of Russian money into the Conservative Party and the upper-reaches of the British economy has created a conflict of interest for Boris Johnson’s Government.

As the Western world considers sanctions against the Russian economy for its invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government must wrestle with the reality that any punitive action against Putin will have a boomerang effect – hurting the domestic economy, that has become reliant on the funds of international oligarchs.

One way to avoid this situation in future would be to clean up the City of London, and to stop Russian cash from boosting the coffers of UK political parties. Only then can we truly separate our fortunes from Putin’s kleptocracy.

The full tables and methodology can be found here

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