Tories raise five times as much as Labour thanks to £10m bequest from Lord Sainsbury

Lord John Sainsbury during a visit to a pop-up Sainsbury's shop on the site of one of the original stores to mark its 150th anniversary
Lord Sainsbury was a regular backer of the Tories but had only given money once since the EU referendum, where he supported Remain - KARWAI TANG/WIREIMAGE

The Tories raised five times more than Labour this summer after a £10 million bequest from a member of the Sainsbury family.

New figures have revealed the Conservatives raised more than £15 million between July and September, compared with £3 million achieved by Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

The cash injection will swell the Tory election war chest and come as a boost to Rishi Sunak as he battles his own MPs over his migration policy.

Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, who served as the chairman of the supermarket chain for 23 years, died in January last year at the age of 94. His gift of £10 million is the biggest single donation ever received by the Tories.

He was a regular financial supporter of the party but had only given money once since the EU referendum, where he supported Remain.

His cousin, Lord Sainsbury of Turville, who also served as the chairman of the family firm, is the biggest private financial backer of Labour.

Lord David Sainsbury, John's cousin, in his office
Lord Sainsbury of Turville is Labour's biggest donor in recent years - ANDREW CROWLEY/ANDREW CROWLEY

Figures published on Thursday by the Electoral Commission show the Conservatives received £15.4 million in donations in the three months to September.

It comes after the party marked a record quarter for donations, outside of an election year, between January and March as it gears up for the ballot box.

A Tory spokesman said: “2023 has been an extremely strong year for fundraising.

“Many business people and entrepreneurs are backing the PM’s economic plan and are concerned about Labour’s policies for more borrowing, higher taxes and anti-competitive regulations.”

Successful year for Labour

Labour took in £3.1 million during the same three-month period, the figures showed, taking its total private donations this year to £15 million.

The party said the latest figures showed it was on course to secure its most successful financial year outside of a general election period.

The largest benefactor from the same three-month period was Gary Lubner, the former boss of Autoglass, who gave almost £700,000 and plans to donate £5 million before the next election.

Anneliese Dodds, the party’s chairman, said: “Thanks to Keir Starmer’s leadership, the Labour Party is seeing significant financial growth throughout 2023.

“Donors are supporting Labour because they can see we are serious about delivering for working people with five missions to transform Britain.

“The Labour Party is a changed party that will end Tory decline and get Britain’s future back.”

It comes after ministers raised the limit on how much parties will be able to spend at the next election from just under £19 million to around £35 million.