Labour’s Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner received more donations than any other MP in 2018 thanks to bumper payments from a law firm linked to the Chinese government.
Electoral Commission records show Gardiner received £116,898 in donations last year, of which £62,000 was used to help fund his office of eight staff – two more than, Labour Brexit chief Keir Starmer.
Most of that money was supplied by the law firm of Christine Lee, who has described herself as the “Chief Legal Adviser of the Chinese Embassy in the UK” and “Special Overseas Legal Adviser of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council of China”. Incidentally, Gardiner has used some of Lee’s donations to employ her son, Daniel Wilkes, as a researcher.
As Labour’s Shadow Trade Secretary, Gardiner would be responsible for negotiating trade deals in a Corbyn government, including any possible deal with China. He has previously advocated a withdrawal from the EU’s customs union to allow for an independent trade agreement with China, and his recent paper on post-Brexit trade promises to boost UK exports to Asia.
Boris Johnson came a distant second to Gardiner, receiving over £80,000 in donations including a trip to Saudi Arabia and £50,000 from hedge fund manager Jon Wood, while Tim Farron came third with £75,000 from Christian groups.