(Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a thumping election victory last week on a campaign to “get Brexit done,” but not before some wealthy donors to his Conservative Party quietly took steps to stay inside the European Union.
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a final general election campaign event in London, Britain, December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
Cyprus government documents seen by Reuters show that Conservative Party donors have sought citizenship of the island, an EU member state, since Britain voted to leave the bloc in 2016.
They include billionaire Alan Howard, one of Britain’s best-known hedge fund managers, and Jeremy Isaacs, the former head of Lehman Brothers for Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Cyprus’ interior ministry recommended that both men’s applications be approved, the government documents show.
The Conservative Party won another term in office last week after an election campaign that was dominated by Brexit. Johnson called the election to try to gain a majority in Parliament to push through his plan to take Britain out of the EU early next year.
That some Brits who made a career out of assessing risk have applied for second passports may suggest sagging confidence in Britain’s economy after it leaves the EU. A broker who makes his living handling such passports says he’s seen a surge of enquiries from Brits looking for ways to keep their European Union citizenship.
“Brexit is the only factor driving this,” says Paul Williams, chief executive of passport brokerage La Vida Golden Visas. The right to live, work, study or set up business anywhere in Europe, says Williams, “that all changes with Brexit.”
According to Britain’s Electoral Commission, Howard donated at least £129,000 to the Conservative Party personally and through his company between 2005 and 2009.