Boris Johnson, former U.K. foreign secretary, smiles during a visit to the King and Co. Tree Nursery, as part of his Conservative Party leadership campaign tour, in Braintree, U.K., on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Johnson said it would be
In the past 2 weeks alone, Boris Johnson received £200,000 in donations © Bloomberg

Boris Johnson received donations of £702,000 in the past year, breaking a record for money raised by a UK politician campaigning to lead their political party.

Mr Johnson, the front-runner to become the next Conservative party leader and UK prime minister, has raised £548,000 since May when the leadership race began.

In the past two weeks alone he has received £200,000, according to figures published on Wednesday by the UK parliament’s register of members’ interests.

Mr Johnson’s ability to pull in such large donations underlines his popularity during the leadership contest and will offer hope to Tory chiefs who believe a Johnson premiership could help fix the party’s finances.

In contrast Jeremy Hunt, Mr Johnson’s rival for the leadership which will be decided by around 160,000 Tory party members next week, did not record any donations during the past fortnight — although he has received £187,000 since May.

The previous record for fundraising by a leadership contender was David Miliband, the former Labour foreign secretary, who raised £627,000 during his failed attempt to become leader of his party in 2010.

Under Conservative party rules each leadership candidate has to stay within a campaign spending limit of £135,000. Mr Johnson has raised around five times that amount since it started, prompting an ally of Mr Hunt to ask: “What does he (Mr Johnson) need that for?”

According to one campaign official, any money raised beyond the spending cap during the contest will go back into the Tory party’s coffers into a “leader’s fund”.

A significant proportion of Mr Johnson’s campaign donations have come from figures who funded the original campaign to leave the EU in 2016.

The most recent batch of donations includes £100,000 from Jonathan Moynihan, chair of a technology venture capital fund called Ipex Capital. Mr Moynihan was chair of the finance committee for the Vote Leave campaign in 2016, and a former director on the board of trustees at the Institute of Economic Affairs, a rightwing think-tank.

Mr Johnson also received £20,000 from Anthony Bamford, the Eurosceptic chair of machinery manufacturer JCB, as well as £8,000 from JC Bamford Excavators.

Mr Bamford, who gave Mr Johnson £10,000 in January, also pays the former Brexit secretary David Davis £60,000 a year to be an external adviser.

Other new donations to Mr Johnson included £10,000 from Rosemary Said, a long-standing Tory donor who is wife of Wafic Said, the Syrian born entrepreneur and philanthropist.

The new figures do not factor in private income earned by MPs, which in Mr Johnson’s case include generous payments for speeches, including £122,900 for an address in New Delhi in March, and book royalties.

The Conservative party has been struggling to fend off a cash crunch in recent months, with doubts about its ability to fight a snap general election.

Mick Davis, the Tory party’s chief executive, told supporters in the spring that the party urgently needed more donations to stay afloat.

This article has been amended to reflect the fact that Jonathan Moynihan is no longer on the board of trustees at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

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