Keir Starmer more receptive to my ideas than Sunak’s party, says Tory donor

A major Tory donor has said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is “more receptive” to his proposals than Rishi Sunak.

John Caudwell, founder of the now defunct mobile phone retailer Phones4U, donated £500,000 to the Conservative Party before the 2019 election when Boris Johnson was at its helm.

But the billionaire has been disillusioned with the party in recent months, slamming the prime minister’s move this autumn to water down net zero comments.

And on Friday the businessman heaped praise on Sir Keir, refusing to rule out providing money towards Labour’s war chest ahead of a likely general election next year.

I’ve met with Keir Starmer and he is more receptive to my ideas than the Tory party

Businessman John Caudwell

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? programme, Mr Caudwell said: “I’ve put so many policies to the Conservative Party to make Britain great again, to put the great back into Great Britain, drive the GDP, drive the wealth for people again.

“I’ve met with Keir Starmer and he is more receptive to my ideas than the Tory Party.

“Will that mean I donate? I can’t answer that.

“But what I can tell you is that any party that makes Britain great by having the right policies… any party that does what I think will make Britain great again … I’ll donate to.”

Mr Caudwell told The Sunday Times in September that he would no longer financially back the Tories if Mr Sunak kept with his changed stance on environmental policies.

“If Rishi sticks to this, would I donate to the Conservative Party? Absolutely not. No chance whatsoever with the decisions they are making at the moment,” he said.

“Would I switch to Labour? The answer to that is very simple: I will support any party that I believe will do the right thing for Britain going forward.”

Labour leader Sir Keir is on course to be the next prime minister, according to current polling.

His party have been consistently ahead in opinion polls, with some surveys putting them as much as 20 points ahead of the Tories, who have been in power since 2010.

Mr Caudwell’s praise for Sir Keir follows a string of high-profile figures from the business world coming out in favour of Labour.

In a major intervention this month, revealed by The Independent, the advertising giant that helped Margaret Thatcher win power attacked the “cruelty” of the Conservatives and predicted a Labour victory at the general election.

The strategy chief at Saatchi & Saatchi – the agency behind the iconic “Labour isn’t working” ads prior to the 1979 landslide – said Britain needs saving from “five more years of stagnation, cruelty and despair”.

That came just weeks after the former governor of the Bank of England endorsed the Labour Party in a major coup for Sir Keir Starmer and his shadow chancellor. Mark Carney said it was “beyond time” for Ms Reeves to run the economy in a Labour government.

Frozen food chain Iceland’s executive chair, Richard Walker, has also withdrawn his support and said he was “open” to supporting Sir Keir. Meanwhile another Tory donor, Philip Harris, founder of Carpetright, said the Conservative Party did not “deserve” to win the 2024 general election