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Dinner with the UK chancellor, golf with David Cameron and a “political night in” with ministers and advisers were among the items auctioned at an exclusive Conservative party fundraiser on Thursday evening.
The auction was held at a dinner for City of London executives as the Conservative party seeks to boost its coffers and win favour with business ahead of a tough campaign for re-election expected next year.
The first lot at the fundraising event, a private dinner for six guests with Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, and three of his Conservative predecessors, sold for £40,000, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Financial Times obtained the brochure for the dinner at the InterContinental hotel on Park Lane, where speakers included Hunt via video link and business secretary Kemi Badenoch.
The document listed seven auction lots, including a round of golf and lunch with former prime minister Cameron at Beaverbrook golf club in Surrey, and dinner with deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden.
The Conservative party said: “Our second City dinner was a huge success, bringing together senior figures from the City and industry, raising money for our election war chest.”
One Conservative donor who is angry about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s weakening of UK net zero targets this week lashed out at the fundraiser, saying that wealthy individuals spending tens of thousands of pounds on auction lots “when the world is burning is seen as obscene by many”.
The dinner with Hunt and former chancellors Sajid Javid, Lord Philip Hammond and Lord Norman Lamont was won by Conservative donors Selva and Tharshiny Pankaj. Selva is chief executive of education company Regent Group, where Tharshiny is global managing director.
Selva told the FT it was “humbling” to be able to glean the “wisdom” of four current and former chancellors over dinner, likening the prospect to a “mini MBA”. He dismissed criticism over bidding in the auction.
City minister Andrew Griffith also addressed the audience of more than 300 at the event sponsored by Bloomberg, where attendees said the Conservative party emphasised the importance of the business community without laying out any new details of its policy plans.
Ministers steered clear of discussing Sunak’s controversial decision to U-turn on key targets to reach net zero, said attendees.
Other lots in the auction included dinner with Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs, and a “political night in” with Badenoch, Treasury minister John Glen and Sunak’s political secretary and best man James Forsyth.
A day’s shooting was also up for grabs. The brochure said the lot was donated by City grandee Martin Gilbert, chair of Revolut, the fintech that has been struggling to obtain a UK banking licence.
Former chancellor Javid, who took a high-paying role at JPMorgan Chase after leaving No 11, was also in attendance, according to two attendees.
Diners were served a black treacle-cured salmon celeriac roulade to start and rump of Cotswold lamb as a main course, accompanied by French wines.