It was Perhaps not surprisingly, Boris Johnson appeared in a hurry to escape the House of Commons chamber as soon as MPs voted in favor of his controversial welfare reforms.
Not only has he risked the anger of voters and his Conservative colleagues by unveiling a package that leaves taxpayers facing a £ 36bn bill, but it has broken commitments previously made in the process.
But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the PM actually left Westminster so that he could spend the evening hanging out with billionaires, financiers and other wealthy Tory donors.
Seconds after the announcement of the vote result at 7:28 p.m. on Wednesday, Mr Johnson got out of his seat and walked quickly for the door.
The Prime Minister left Westminster so that he could spend the evening with billionaires, financiers and other wealthy Tory donors at an event at Hertford House (pictured)
After a three-kilometer journey through central London, he exited his chauffeured car minutes later into the courtyard of Hertford House, home to the famous Wallace collection of art treasures.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak arrived shortly after.
The venue, brimming with old masters and thousands of artifacts, promises a ‘taste of old world glamor in the heart of London’ to anyone willing to pay up to £ 12,000 to hire a room for a reception. He had been hired on this occasion by the Group of Treasurers of the Conservative Party.
About 70 donors were invited to mingle with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak. With guests arriving for drinks and canapes shortly before 7pm, one of them was overheard saying, “They’re coming after the vote.”
Former Conservative Party Treasurer Lord Howard Leigh gave a speech, followed by remarks from Mr Johnson, which has been described as being in ‘exuberant’ form.
Other high-ranking Conservatives in attendance included Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi and Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield.
Meanwhile, names on the guest list included Anglo-Australian businessman Michael Hintze, whose net worth is estimated at £ 1.5 billion and who has donated millions of dollars to the Tories.
Malik Karim, the investment banker who founded Fenchurch Advisory Partners, was also present, as was Lord Rami Ranger, a businessman who contributed over £ 1million to the party coffers and received a peerage of Theresa May.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured arriving at the event) arrived shortly after voting for Boris Johnson’s controversial social service reforms in the House of Commons
Yet while sources have said Mr Johnson has the appearance of a leader at the peak of his political power, the timing of the event is sure to raise questions about his judgment – as he l ‘came shortly after MPs agreed to increase spending on the NHS and welfare with a National Insurance-funded levy and an increase in dividend tax.
The event came after the Prime Minister carried out a series of maneuvers to outsmart his opponents, including raising the threat of a cabinet reshuffle to advance his plans to finally resolve Britain’s social services crisis, this which he had promised on the steps of Downing Street two years ago.
The huge political gamble meant breaking two manifesto promises and increasing Britain’s tax burden to its highest level in 70 years to around 35.5% of the country’s gross domestic product by the end of Parliament.
Basically, this move was seen by many mainstream conservatives as a definite break with low-tax conservatism.
The plans, which had been closely watched for months, were debated between Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
The three had originally planned to announce the changes in July to coincide with Mr Johnson’s second birthday as Prime Minister, but that timeline was put on hold when Mr Javid was diagnosed with Covid-19 and Mr. .
Reports started pouring in in the closing days of the summer recess that the plan would be unveiled as soon as Parliament returned.
Then details began to leak, initially about the hike in national insurance, prompting a furious reaction from the Conservatives that young people should fund retiree care.
Nothing has been finalized at this point, however, with the Treasury keen to avoid actually handing over a blank check to the health service. Intensive talks took place over the weekend, which Mr Johnson joined from Balmoral where he and his wife Carrie were visiting the Queen.
Key changes were introduced in the wake of the backlash – an increase in the dividend tax was included in the final package so that the wealthy should bear more of the burden.
Around 70 donors (donors not pictured) were invited to mingle with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak at Hertford House, home to the famous Wallace art treasures collection.
Meanwhile, it was decided that active retirees would also pay for the 1.25 percentage point hike in national insurance.
It was also agreed that the triple pension lockdown would also be suspended for a year, saving billions from the Treasury. Mr Sunak attended a reception with backbench MPs last Monday and urged them to remain ‘loyal’ as party whips privately warned that a vote against Mr Johnson’s proposal would be considered as a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
Meanwhile, rumors began to circulate of an impending cabinet reshuffle. Well-placed sources say the threat of demotion and the hope of promotions have helped quell concerns in the Cabinet ranks.
When the plans were presented Tuesday morning, only a handful of ministers raised concerns – including Commerce Secretary Liz Truss, European Relations Secretary Lord Frost and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg – who asked why the government couldn’t borrow more money instead.
Mr Sunak said it would break the party’s commitment to voters to be financially responsible.
On voting day, Mr Johnson met with backbench MPs at a meeting of the 1922 committee – which is made up of all backbench Tories.
Only five Conservative MPs voted against the tax hike, while about three dozen others abstained.
When members flocked to the Commons terrace after the vote, neither Mr. Johnson nor Mr. Sunak were there.
Instead, they rubbed shoulders with super rich donors.