A closer look at the money behind the right-wing political group
Reform UK are gaining in the polls and have the potential to cause trouble for the Conservatives ahead of the next election, as they look to lure Tories veering further to the right. So who is funding the Reform UK Party?
Formerly known as the Brexit Party before its rebrand, the party saw a funding peak during the 2019 election year, when the House of Commons reported that the Party received the highest average value per donation, at £461,111, however registered only received nine donations from two individuals.
Most significant contributions have been from former Conservative donors, such as British businessman Jeremy Hosking who gave nearly £250,000 in 2019, and over £2,500,000 in total as he continues to provide donations for Reform.
Brexiteer Hosking has also given millions to Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party.
While Thailand based, technology investor and businessman Christopher Harborne is one of the biggest single donors to the party, also a Tory donor, having donated £10 million to Reform in the lead up to the 2019 general election.
Ex-Bullingdon Club member George Farmer gave £200,000 in 2019, the husband of Candace Owens and former CEO of far-right platform Parler.
The same year also saw the Brexit Party embroiled in a funding scandal after leader Nigel Farage boasted it had raised £750,000 in small donations in 10 days. The Party was criticised by the Electoral Commission over gifts accepted through online payments systems such as PayPal and told to check all donations for “possible illegal funding”.
The Party has also been criticised for its structure which gives almost total control to its leader, with its 115,000 paying registered supporters not holding any influence over policy.
Last year saw a marked rise in the party’s funding, compared with 2022 when the party received only £20,000 from Richard Tice’s company ‘Britain means Business’.
However the Party’s latest accounts on Companies House from December 2022 also stated £1,106,050 worth of net liabilities, made up mainly of directors loans from Richard Tice, which are to “help grow the party”.
Anti-net zero funders
It was reported by the climate disinformation database DeSmog that all of Reform Party’s funders in 2023 had oil and gas investments or ties to climate science denial, totalling £135,000.
The party holds a vocal anti-net zero stance, seemingly reflected in its funding, which includes Panther Securities, a property investment company whose chairman has spoken out against climate policies and was also a former UKIP donor.
Other donors include First Corporate, who gave £100,000 in June 2023, a consultants firm owned by Terence Mordaunt, director of the UK’s leading climate science denial group, Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Richard Tice, the current leader of Reform has previously denied there is a climate crisis, airing his anti-net zero views on GB News – who’s co-owner has invested billions in fossil fuels – where he is a regular presenter. In a scientifically debunked video, he called C02 “plant food” in an attempt to challenge climate change facts.
Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues