Billionaire Brexit donor gives £1 million to UK Conservatives
By Andrew MacAskill
LONDON (Reuters) - Peter Hargreaves, one of Britain's wealthiest men and the second-biggest donor to the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, has donated 1 million pounds ($1.28 million) to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's party ahead of next week's election.
Hargreaves, who amassed his fortune from co-founding fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown, said he was worried that the project he championed could be abandoned, leaving the United Kingdom stuck in the European Union.
"The electorate voted to be out, out, out, out, totally out," Hargreaves, 73, told Reuters. "The referendum (ballot) paper didn't say anything about a halfway house. It asked people whether they wanted to stay, or whether they wanted to leave, and the electorate voted to leave."
Hargreaves, who is known for his outspoken views, made the donation despite calling Johnson a "buffoon" last year.
Johnson, 55, hopes to win a majority on Dec. 12 to push through the Brexit deal he struck with the EU after the bloc granted a third delay to a divorce that was originally supposed to have taken place at the end of March.
Hargreaves' donation is the joint highest amount given to the Conservatives in this election. John Gore, a developer, producer and distributor of Broadway theatre, gave the same amount to the party last month.
The main opposition Labour Party, led by veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, has accused the Conservatives of being the party of billionaires and has promised a radical redistribution of wealth if it wins power.
The Conservatives have raised over 12 million pounds since Nov. 6 while Labour have raised just over 4 million pounds ahead of the Dec. 12 vote, the Electoral Commission said.
Opinion polls put the Conservatives well ahead of Labour although large numbers of voters are still undecided.
Hargreaves, who donated 3.2 million pounds to the Leave campaign in 2016, said he was still worried that Brexit could be overturned.
"I don't think Brexit is a certainty," he said. "In my opinion, the best deal that we can have is Leave - it is better than staying and considerably better than any halfway house."
(Additional reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)