Former Tory donor scathing about party’s response to Michelle Mone allegations

A former Tory donor who recently defected to Labor has launched a scathing attack on his former party, saying his response to allegations about fellow Tory Michelle Mone has only strengthened his resolve to help them oust them from power .

Gareth Quarry, a businessman who recently donated £50,000 to Labour, told the Guardian he plans to raise the sum in coming months, saying the Tories have trashed their reputation and that of the country.

He pointed to the row over fellow Tory Lady Mone, who announced on Tuesday she was taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords after the Guardian revealed she appeared to have received millions from a company’s profits. PPE which had received government funding. Last night Labor won a vote that will force the government to release certain documents supporting this contract.

Related: Revealed: The second company pushed by Michelle Mone was a secret entity in the office of the husband

Quarry said: “The Conservative response is indefensible. If there’s nothing to hide, why do we have to dance this dance to get disclosure? But that fits a pattern – there seems to be a complete inability on the part of the Conservative Party to raise their hands and say we were wrong.

“The moral standards of the party have been completely trashed for many years.”

He added: “My wife [Jillian Whitehouse] and I have both donated £50,000 in the last quarter, and we both intend to increase this amount. No doubt there will be more.

Mone has previously denied having a relationship with PPE company Medpro. Her spokesman said on Tuesday she was taking her leave from the Lords “to clear her name of the allegations which have been unjustly leveled against her”.

Quarry added that he believed splits within his old party – on everything from Brexit to planning – would keep him out of power for at least a decade. “The running wound of the Conservative Party is still aching, still weeping and until the offending limb is cut, the Tories will never solve their problem,” he said.

“They’re ineligible for certainly a decade and maybe longer.”

The Conservatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Quarry is one of several Conservative donors who have stopped donating to the party in recent months, contributing to a drop in donations over the past quarter.

Figures released by the Electoral Commission on Tuesday showed the party raised just under £3m between July and September this year – the lowest since mid-2020 and a drop of more than 40% on in the previous quarter. Tory sources pointed out that the period included the leadership election to succeed Boris Johnson, in which Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak both received personal donations of more than £400,000.

Labor hopes to attract wealthier backers such as Quarry and is hosting a business conference on Thursday at Canary Wharf which will be attended by more than 400 business leaders and lobbyists. Among those due to speak at the event are Justin King, the former chief executive of Sainsbury’s, and Amanda Blanc, chief executive of insurer Aviva.

Data released on Tuesday showed Labor leader Keir Starmer successfully persuading wealthy donors to return to the party after many left during Jeremy Corbyn’s years as leader. One of the biggest individual donations came from Fran Perrin, the daughter of David Sainsbury, the longtime Labor donor who stopped giving under Corbyn.

Quarry, who made his money setting up and selling two legal recruitment businesses, said: ‘I joined the Labor Party because it’s a latter-day Blair type party. If he was still led by his Corbyn wing, I would have stopped donating to the Tories, but I wouldn’t have gone to Labour.

Quarry said other business leaders were considering joining the party, although he did not name names. However, he said he now sees Labor as the “business party” after last year’s unrest.

“What do I need in business? I need stability and a level playing field, both domestically and internationally.

Remaining a partisan, he said he did not expect the UK to join the EU. But he added: “We need a party that can negotiate with the rest of the EU, and for that you need to have the trust of the people you are dealing with.

“The Tories have trashed our reputation with Europe and our reputation for trust.”

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