(Bloomberg) -- Donations to the UK Conservatives sank to their lowest in more than two years in the third quarter, when the ruling party was riven by infighting which led to the ouster of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Rishi Sunak’s party received almost £3 million ($3.7 million) in donations in the three months through September, a 45% drop on the previous quarter, according to Electoral Commission data released on Tuesday.
While political donations can be lumpy from quarter to quarter, the sharp fall took Tory fund-raising to its lowest since the second quarter of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic had just begun.
The drop-off coincided with a period of intense turmoil for the ruling party. Tory rebels secured Johnson’s resignation in July, prompting a leadership contest that installed Liz Truss as leader and premier in September. Her grip on power lasted just seven weeks before she too was forced to quit after her economic policies roiled the financial markets.
While Sunak wasn’t in charge during the period covered by the data, it will be of concern to the new premier as he seeks to rebuild the reputation of the Tories ahead of a general election that must be held in January 2025 at the latest. The Tories are facing renewed competition for political donations from Keir Starmer’s resurgent Labour Party, which has a polling lead of 20 points or more in many recent surveys.
Former Tory Donors Turn Their Support to Starmer’s Labour Party
Labour received £4.7 million in donations in the third quarter, according to the Electoral Commission, and its £1.7 million fund-raising advantage over the Tories was the highest its been in the current parliamentary session, which followed the 2019 general election. Labour party officials expect the fourth quarter to be even better, with donations from individuals already having doubled compared to the previous period.
“Donors are coming back to Labour because they can see we are a changed party that is serious about getting into government and building a fairer, greener, more dynamic Britain,” a Labour spokesperson said in a statement.
The Conservative Party didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Adds Labour statement from seventh paragraph.)
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