Leading MP tells major Tory donor: You can’t buy watered-down Brexit from Theresa May
A leading Tory MP has defiantly told major party donor Sir Andrew Cook he won’t be able to use his wealth to buy a watered-down Brexit.
Last week Sir Andrew, the multimillionaire owner of engineering firm William Cook, threatened to withdraw his financial backing for the Conservatives if Theresa May took Britain out of the EU’s Single Market after Brexit.
The Yorkshire-based businessman, whose family is estimated to be worth £80million, said it would be “impossible” for him to carry on handing over cash to the Tories if the Prime Minister pursued a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit.
Sir Andrew warned Britain would “sleepwalk to disaster” by choosing to quit the Single Market in order to impose EU immigration controls.
But prominent Leave campaigner John Redwood has reminded Sir Andrew his political donations “do not buy influence or change of policy”.
In an open letter to Sir Andrew published by the Yorkshire Post, the Wokingham MP wrote: “You are right to be proud of your family company’s achievements and to be concerned for the welfare and future of your workforce.
“As a donor to the Remain campaign and to the Conservative Party, you will know that donations do not buy influence or change of policy.
“Donations are made to support causes and parties the donor wants to support. I am glad you have in the past chosen to support the Conservative Party, and hope that when we approach the next election you will once again see that the Conservatives offer the best policy proposals that can work for everyone, including successful family business owners.
"It would never be right for the Conservative Party to change policy just because someone who granted it money wanted it to do so.
“It would be especially wrong to do so in defiance of a large vote by the UK electorate to leave the EU following a long and thorough campaign where all the arguments were fully exposed by both sides and poured over by experts.”
Donations do not buy influence or change of policy.
Mr Redwood also told Sir Andrew, whose firm makes components for trains and armoured vehicles, the UK was likely to “retain good access” to European markets after Brexit.
Sir Andrew has claimed at least one of his factories is almost “entirely dependent” on access to EU’s Single Market.
Mr Redwood wrote: “If we all unite to offer the rest of the EU a friendly continuation of current tariff-free trade they might, after some huffing and puffing, conclude that they should accept as it is strongly in their interest.”
Sir Andrew has given more than £1.2million to the Conservative Party and also donated to the Remain campaign ahead of the EU referendum.
He was knighted by former prime minister David Cameron in his controversial resignation honours list, blighted by allegations of ‘cronyism’.