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LABOUR accused the Tories today of creating “a government for sale” after it was revealed that exclusive dinners with ministers had been auctioned off for thousands of pounds.
Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett, speaking in the Commons, cited reports that ministers were “sold off” at the party’s fundraising Black & White Ball in February.
Prime Minister Theresa May made a speech at the event promising the wealthy donors that socialism would be defeated.
Mr Trickett accused the government of undermining democracy by flogging off nosh-ups with ministers to the super-rich.
He said: “Last month access to members of the British Cabinet were auctioned off for about £55,000 per minister, though the International Trade Secretary was only worth two [thousand].
“Now, her job in the Cabinet Office is to ensure propriety, ethics and transparency in government: but doesn’t she agree that auctioning off access to ministers undermines confidence in democracy by giving the impression of a government for sale?
“Will she immediately take steps to ensure transparency and propriety in all such matters in the future?”
Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith said: “All donations are registered in accordance with law.
“There are a lot of allegations in the air at the moment but what the government has to do is deal with the law as it stands and to allow the correct bodies to carry out investigations.”
And the Tories came under fire for accepting donations of more than £820,000 from Russian oligarchs since Ms May became prime minister.
After the Russia-linked Salisbury attack Chancellor Philip Hammond said that the Tories would not hand back donations as it would be wrong to tar the donors “with Putin’s brush.”
Labour MP Alex Cunningham asked how much of the donations from oligarchs and their associates would be returned.
Ms Smith said: “British citizens are entitled to donate to UK political parties and foreign donors are not.”
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