Boris Johnson given £1m donation by former Brexit party backer

Boris Johnson has received a donation of £1m from a Thai-based British businessman who had previously given millions of pounds to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party, the newly released register of MPs’ interests has shown.

Peter Walker 

Christopher Harborne, a tech industry investor who had previously donated to the Conservatives but gave the Brexit party £6m before the 2019 general election, handed the £1m donation to Johnson’s personal office, set up after he left No 10.

The Office of Boris Johnson Ltd was established in October last year. Companies House records show its sole original director was Johnson’s long-time aide Shelly Williams-Walker.

She has since been replaced by Ann Sindall, another close ally of the former PM, who was his secretary when he edited the Spectator magazine and went on to work with him when he was London mayor.

The Companies House entry lists the purpose of the company only as “other business support service activities”. Former prime ministers often set up offices to manage their post-Downing Street activities.

However, the size of the donation, one of the biggest recorded to an individual UK politician rather than a party, and from a strong Brexit supporter, will increase speculation that Johnson could be planning some sort of comeback.

Harborne, who began as a management consultant, has lived in Thailand for about 20 years, where he is also known under the Thai name of Chakrit Sakunkrit.

The register of interests, updated monthly, shows that in addition to this donation Johnson earned just over £250,000 for two speeches in December, meaning he has made more than £1.2m from speeches since leaving No 10 in September.

It also shows that Johnson and his family are still being supported by the billionaire Bamford family who are close friends of the former PM and also strong Brexit backers. Anthony and Carole Bamford provided two homes during December, declared as costing £10,000 each for the month.

The Bamfords – Anthony Bamford chairs the eponymous family digger firm – have provided the Johnsons with free accommodation since he left Downing Street.

Johnson also declared the free use of a VIP suite at Heathrow airport on two occasions in late November and December. He has used such VIP facilities at Heathrow or Gatwick 15 times since August.