A list of ‘big business’ donors to Britain Stronger in Europe reveals the advocacy group has already raised double the level of spending permitted in the final ten weeks of the referendum campaign.
On Wednesday the Electoral Commission — the independent body charged with keeping an eye on referendum campaign spending — is due to publish an initial list of donors from both sides of the debate covering the period between 1 February and 21 April this year. However, Sky News has already obtained a list of those donating to Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE).
The list reveals that BSE has already raised over twice the £7 million level of permitted spending for the final ten weeks before the referendum on 23 June, which is though to be more than double the sum the ‘Leave’ camp has managed. Both sides continue to raise funds as some expenses, like certain staffing costs, are excluded from the permitted limit.
Corporate donors revealed to be funding the BSE campaign include four Wall Street banks, including Goldman Sachs, and:
- Access Industries — the American conglomerate holding company founded in 1986 by Len Blavatnik, the USSR-born businessman and owner of Warner Music Group said to be personally worth £11.6 billion;
- Bet365 — one of the world’s leading online gambling groups;
- Canary Wharf Group — the London HQ of major investment banks such as pro-EU donors Citi and Morgan Stanley;
- Grovepoint Capital — the private equity firm financially linked to BHS before its recent collapse;
- Eurostar; and
- Airbus — the French aerospace group whose CEO, Fabrice Brégier, said at the Paris Airshow he had “no intention” of pulling out of the UK in the event of Brexit.
Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canary Wharf Group confirmed its £25,000 support, saying: “We want to be part of protecting the UK’s interests.”
Some on the list of donors have contributed to the campaign by paying for tables at private fundraising dinners.
Wealthy individuals revealed to have been donors to BSE include:
- John Studzinksi — the American-born investment banker who is now Senior Managing Director of Blackstone, where he holds special responsibility for a number of sovereign and international institutional relationships, as well as ultra high-net-worth families outside the United States;
- Lloyd Dorfman — the tycoon who founded Travelex, the world’s largest retailer of foreign exchange;
- Franck Petitgas — Global Co-Head of Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley;
- Damon Buffini — a former head of private equity firm Permira, reported last year to be personally worth around £100 million;
- Sir Evelyn de Rothschild — the billionaire financier who spent a night of his honeymoon with his third wife staying at the White House as the Clintons’ guests; and
- Jeremy Isaacs — a former Chief Executive Officer of Lehman Brothers in Europe, Middle East, and Asia, and head of the European equity derivatives trading business at Goldman Sachs.
Some politicians have been revealed to be financial backers of BSE. These include:
- Lord Myners — Gordon Brown’s City Minister;
- Lord Davies — another of Prime Minister Brown’s ministers, this time including Trade & Investment; and
- Lord Oakeshott — Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesman in the House of Lords from 2001 to 2011, and Pensions Spokesman from 2002 to 2010.
Among the list of FTSE-100 bosses thought to be BSE donors, including BAE Systems’ chairman Sir Roger Carr and Compass Group chief executive Richard Cousins, is BT Group chairman Sir Mike Rake.
The recently-retired President of the CBI reflects the unquestioningly pro-EU sentiment of the big business lobby. As Breitbart London previously reported Sir Mike, along with other leading lights of the Remain campaign, signed a letter in 2003 urging the government to adopt the Euro. It concluded:
The weight of independent economic evidence suggests that the conditions for entry are right. Commercial reality strongly dictates that the risks of staying outside the euro far outweigh any risks of joining. The European single market has moved on and we are no longer full members. We hope that the Government will have the courage of its convictions and recognise that membership of the euro is in our long-term national interest. To do otherwise would have serious consequences for Britain’s future prosperity.
As recently as 2013 Sir Mike stood by that sentiment, telling an interviewer:
“I absolutely declare I’m a kind of eyes wide open pro-European. In fact, I’m a Europhile. And in fact, I’m probably one of the few people left standing, and don’t hold this against me, who still believes in the Euro, in this country.”