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JCB backs Johnson's leadership bid with a further £15,000 gift

The Guardian logo The Guardian 21/03/2019 Peter Walker and Rowena Mason
Boris Johnson, Faisal Islam are posing for a picture: Boris Johnson has recently tried to appear less chaotic – and less scruffy. © Rex Boris Johnson has recently tried to appear less chaotic – and less scruffy.

Boris Johnson has received another £15,000 from the pro-Brexit digger maker JCB, figures have shown, part of a mass of donations to potential Conservative leadership contenders amid the expectation that Theresa May’s time in office is coming to an end.

The former foreign secretary, a likely standard-bearer for pro-Brexit Tories, received £31,000 in donations in the past month, the register of MP’s interests showed, and has now been given almost £140,000 in money or other support since late last year.

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Read more about Boris Johnson:

Johnson earned £51,000 for one speech (The Guardian)

Johnson say sorry to parliament for not declaring earnings (Sky News)

MPs vow to quit if Johnson becomes Tory leader (The Guardian)

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Others to get new donations in recent weeks include Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary who has made no secret of his leadership ambitions. He has received more than £50,000 in cash and other donations this month alone.

In January, JCB – owned by Anthony Bamford, a Conservative peer and donor – gave Johnson £10,000 three days before he made a speech at the company’s Staffordshire headquarters during which he repeatedly praised the company.

As well as the new £15,000 from JCB, given in mid-February, Johnson accepted £16,000 from Johan Christofferson, who co-owns a New York-based investment business. He gave another £20,000 in January.

In pictures: Boris Johnson's worst diplomatic gaffes (Deutsche Welle)

Johnson has been very publicly preparing for a new tilt at the leadership if May is ousted over the Brexit deadlock; some Conservative MPs predict that could happen as early as next week if her departure deal is rejected again.

Despite recent controversies, for example Johnson’s remarks last week that funding for inquiries into historic sex abuses was money “spaffed up a wall”, he has recently tried to appear less chaotic – and less scruffy.

Watch: Money spent on child sex abuse investigations 'spaffed up the wall', says Johnson (Evening Standard)

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A backer of his campaign said it was a deliberate move for him to smarten up his image in an attempt to look more prime ministerial, with a haircut and weight loss.

Raab, who already has a semi-official leadership campaign running under the slogan Ready for Raab, was given a donation worth more than £44,000 to pay for a staff member for six months, from the London-based bank Arbuthnot. He received £10,000 from another, private donor.

Other prominent Conservatives to receive donations include Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, who accepted £7,500 from a private equity executive, and Michael Gove, the environment secretary, who received £3,000 from a firm of management consultants.

Watch: Caller accuses Boris Johnson of misleading the public on Brexit (LBC)

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The set of MPs’ interests also showed that the Conservatives have accepted yet more money from the wife of one of Vladimir Putin’s former ministers, who has been a regular and generous recent donor to the party.

Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband, Vladimir, is a former Russian deputy finance minister, donated £9,500 in cash and other offerings to the Conservative MP and party chair Brandon Lewis in February and March. She has given more than £600,000 to the Tories in recent years.

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