A major Conservative Party donor has threatened to switch allegiance to Labor over Rishi Sunak’s “madness” U-turn on net zero policy.
Billionaire John Caudwell was the party’s biggest donor before the last election, but he has now said there is “absolutely no chance” of supporting Mr Sunak after making changes to a range of green measures earlier this week.
In 2019, the founder of former mobile phone retailer Phones4U donated £500,000 to the party. Accordingly The Sunday Times On the 2022 Rich List, Mr Caudwell is worth £1.58 billion and was ranked 984th on Forbes’ 2022 list of the world’s billionaires, which listed his net worth at $2.8 billion.
This week Mr Sunak jettisoned an extensive list of net zero pledges, including delaying a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars until 2035 and introducing watered-down targets for phasing out gas boilers.
He announced that the UK would stick to its net zero commitment, but rolled back existing measures aimed at keeping the country on track to meet its 2050 climate targets. Mr Sunak argued that these measures imposed “unacceptable costs” on citizens, although this is a claim that climate experts strongly refute.
The Prime Minister was widely ridiculed for scrapping measures that didn’t actually exist – such as theoretical new taxes on meat or “mandatory” car sharing.
In The Sunday TimesMr Caudwell said he was “beyond shocked” by the “madness” of Mr Sunak’s move away from the green reforms introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“If Rishi sticks around, would I donate to the Conservative Party? Absolutely not,” he said. “No chance with the decisions they are currently making.
“Would I switch to Labor? The answer is simple: I will support any party that I believe will do the right thing for Britain in the future,” he added.
The billionaire said he was “appalled” by the changes Mr Sunak has made to the party’s green policies, pointing out that the decision “sets the Conservatives far back”.
“Whatever chance they had of winning the next election, it sets them back,” he added. “It shows inconsistency.” It shows a lack of resolve. It’s depressing.”