Tories' Winter Party auctions off cricket with Rishi Sunak for £35k

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak outside No 11 Downing Street before heading for the House of Commons to give MPs details of his Winter Economy Plan.
An hour of cricket with chancellor Rishi Sunak sold for £35,000. (PA Images)

Donors to the Conservative Party forked out thousands of pounds to spend time with senior members of government on Monday night.

Tickets to the Conservative Party's Tory Winter Ball event cost about £1,000 each, an apparent bargain compared to tables last year that reportedly cost up to £15,000.

According to The Sun's Harry Cole, among the "opportunities" auctioned off this year was an hour playing cricket with chancellor Rishi Sunak, which sold for £35,000.

Earlier this month, Sunak said that the Conservatives needed to "do better" following the lobbying and second jobs scandals rocking the party.

Watch: Chancellor on MP standards - 'We need to do better'

Read more:

MP says they need second jobs because they ‘have families and responsibilities’
41 Tory MPs using loophole to employ their wives
The 'Red Wall' Tory MP with concerns about his own party

The chance to do karaoke with foreign secretary Liz Truss went for £22,000, while dinner with levelling up secretary Michael Gove cost £25,000.

And the 'Get Brexit Done' sign from Boris Johnson's 2019 election campaign sold for £30,000.

Other attendees to the party, formerly known as the Black and White ball, included senior members of government - such as education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, and Conservative party co-chair Oliver Dowden.

The cash was splashed just moments before MPs hurried from the event to the House of Commons in order to vote on the government's controversial £86,000 blanket cap on social care costs.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 11, 2019, Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Boris Johnson poses after hammering a
Boris Johnson's 'Get Brexit Done' sign sold for £30,000. (PA Images)

The cap, which has been criticised by MPs from across the political spectrum, means those with fewer assets could contribute significantly more proportionately for their social care over their lifetime.

Torsten Bell, of the Resolution Foundation think-tank, said of the plans on Twitter: “If you own a £1m house in the home counties, over 90% of your assets are protected.

"If you’ve got a terraced house in Hartlepool (worth £70k) you can lose almost everything.”

The government suffered a significant revolt from its own MPs, securing a majority of just 26 on the vote despite having a majority of over 80 MPs.

The expensive event, held amid rising inflation and soaring energy costs, is unlikely to assuage concerns that the party is increasingly out of touch.

It also comes amid accusations of Tory sleaze in the aftermath of the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal and backlash over Conservative MPs holding lucrative second jobs.

The Catch-up sign up
The Catch-up sign up

Earlier this month, the Scottish National Party (SNP) reported the party to the Metropolitan Police, accusing the party of corruption over peerages.

The cash for honours allegations were prompted after multiple Tory donors, some of which gave more than £3m to the party, were given positions in the House of Lords.

However, the Met have decided not to pursue the SNP's complaints.

The Winter Party this year is not the first time the event has raised eyebrows.

Last year, the annual fundraiser came under fire after a banned City trader, Jay Rutland, helped organise the event.

And in 2018, then prime minister Theresa May auctioned off a day with her for £55,000.

Watch: Rishi Sunak says government needs to 'do better' amid sleaze allegations against MPs