Tory donor Alexander Temerko has insisted Russian-linked businessmen have ‘zero’ influence on British politics despite donating more than £1 million.
Temerko said his wealth gave him influence in the City but not Westminster.
The director of energy business Aquind, which is planning to build a £1.2 billion power pipeline from Britain to France, was born in the former Soviet Union but is now a British citizen.
Asked about the influence wielded by Russian-linked individuals like him in the capital – dubbed ‘Londongrad’ in the Russia report – Temerko said: ‘Influence where? In the City, it is quite significant – in energy sector, yes quite significant but on a political level, zero.’
In an ITV News interview, he denied buying influence with his political donations, saying that to discuss his company with government officials would be ‘very inappropriate behaviour’ and ‘impossible’.
Have your say
Send your letters for publication to The New European by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and pick up an edition each Thursday for more comment and analysis. Find your nearest stockist here or subscribe to a print or digital edition for just £13. You can also join our readers' Facebook group to keep the discussion and debate going with thousands of fellow pro-Europeans.
Temerko said he was ‘absolutely’ an enemy of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has defended the system for accepting donations.
He said: ‘I’m sorry, but we have a law a rule in our party that we don’t take foreign donations.
‘But, what I don’t like to see is people automatically assuming everybody who is associated with some country or other is in someway untouchable – we are not a racist country.
‘We are a generous, welcoming, international, outgoing country.
‘That’s the way we should be.
‘Donations from foreigners are illegal and they should be handed back, but that I don’t think is what we’re talking about here.’
It listed former Tory chairman Brandon Lewis as having personally received £25,000 from Lubov Chernukhin, a banker and the wife of Putin’s former deputy finance minister, and £23,000 from Temerko.
Other cabinet ministers said to have accepted money, either personally or to their constituency branch, from the two Russia-linked individuals include chancellor Rishi Sunak, business secretary Alok Sharma and justice secretary Robert Buckland.