Independent Group wins donor backing from property tycoon who abandoned Labour

The new Independent Group of MPs have won donor backing from a property tycoon who abandoned Labour over claims

Sir David Garrard told The Observer: “I’ve been asked whether I will financially support the new group. I have already done so.”

The property tycoon, who donated around £1.5 million to Labour over a period of 15 years, left the party in protest at the leadership’s handling of the anti-Semitism row.

But now he has thrown his weight behind the 8 Labour and 3 Tory MPs who quit their parties this week to form the so-called ‘TIG’.

He told The Observer “intimidation and bullying” has become “endemic” in the Labour Party “for all to see” – and he now feels “relief” at abandoning Labour.

He added: “I have watched, with ever-growing concern, the deterioration, especially over the past year, of the extent and nature of the naked antisemitism which has increased throughout the Labour party and its supporters, since Jeremy Corbyn and his cabal of revolutionaries took control of the Labour party which I had so admired and supported with commitment and enthusiasm.”

Pimlico Plumbers founder Charlie Mullins, who previously donated to the Tories and then the Lib Dems, indicated to The Times on Saturday that he could also give TIG financial backing.


Pimlico Plumbers chief executive Charlie Mullins indicated he could donate to TIG


“I believe that any money I put in to the Independent Group will be money well spent because I think Theresa May is destroying the economy,” he said.

“This is about our children and grandchildren and the future of this country.”

Meanwhile Sadiq Khan warned there has been “a collapse in trust” between Labour and the Jewish community and said the last week had been “the most distressing and depressing of my 33 years in the party”.

Many Jewish people feel Labour is “unwilling” to tackle anti-Semitism, he wrote, and “Sadly, it’s now possible that the Jewish Labour Movement will never reach its 100-year anniversary.’

And the Mail on Sunday reports that Dame Louise Ellman could be the next MP to quit the Labour Party.

A friend of the Jewish MP told the newspaper: “Louise will not be in the party for much longer.”

The Mail on Sunday reports that Dame Louise Ellman could be the next MP to quit the Labour Party

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson today declared there is a “crisis for the soul of the Labour Party”, branded the situation “perilous” and demanded Jeremy Corbyn take personal control of the anti-Semitism row.

He said he had sent a file of 50 Labour anti-Semitism cases to the Labour leader that he felt had been inadequately dealt with.

But Labour’s Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner insisted the number of cases was a “tiny” proportion of the Labour membership and said just 61 alleged anti-Semites had been expelled or left in anticipation they’d been booted out.

Earlier this week the new Independent Group of MPs claimed they had already had thousands of donations – and claimed they will declare them “in due course”.

Because the group is not a registered political party, it does not have to declare donations unless they come to its individual MPs.

Critics claim donors could conceal their identities by donating to a company called Gemini A Ltd – a vehicle run by MP Gavin Shuker and based above a Wetherspoons in Altrincham called The Unicorn.

The Independent Group has faced questions over how it will be funded

Responding to the Mirror’s queries over its status earlier this week, TIG MP Chris Leslie insisted the group will declare donations “in due course” – even if it is not legally required to by the Electoral Commission.

He told us: “Gemini A was Gavin Shuker’s clever idea for I guess he was thinking a launch or something.

“What we’ve said is we underwrote the room where we launched.

“And hopefully now with our crowdfunding, which is www.theindependent.group, we’ve had quite a good response from the public.

“We’ve had thousands of people giving small sums and some wanting to give larger sums.

“Obviously the Electoral Commission have rules for political parties.

“While we’re not a political party yet, we’ve set out to say we will map over the rules on parties as though we were a political party and comply with the full disclosures of that.”

Mr Leslie said there were some requirements before publishing the names and amounts from donors – such as a value threshold.

Political parties and movements do not need to publish details of donations below a certain amount.

Aside from that, however, Mr Leslie said: “There will be publication in due course.

“I don’t know who’s going to want to support and give money but we will need it.”

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