Great Britain

'Get Brexit done': Wealthy Tory donors buying EU citizenship for themselves, documents reveal

Wealthy Tory donors are reportedly taking steps to secure EU citizenship for themselves, as Boris Johnson returns to office on the back of his "Get Brexit Done" election campaign.

An investigation by the Reuters news agency found that past donors to the ruling party have applied for citizenship of the EU member state of Cyprus since the UK voted to Leave in 2016.

Cyprus offers a so-called "golden passport" scheme that allows investors to effectively buy EU citizenship if they spend around two million euros on property in the country – a trifling amount for Britain's wealthiest.

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Applicants for citizenship do not have to live in – or even visit – Cyprus to get the passport. Once secured a Cypriot passport gives the freedom to live, work, and study in all 28, soon to be 27 EU member states – just as a British passport currently does ahead of Brexit.

Reuters says Cypriot government documents show Tory donors including Alan Howard, a top hedge fund manager, and Jeremy Isaacs, a former Lehman Brothers chief, applied for citizenship – and that Cyprus's interior ministry recommended the applications be approved. 

Electoral Commission figures show Mr Howard donated at least £129,000 to the Tories personally and through his company between 2005 and 2009. Meanwhile Mr Isaacs made contributions of at least £626,500 to the party. He earmarked £50,000 this sum to be spent on The In Campaign, which campaigned in favour of UK membership of the EU.

The news agency also reports the documents appear to suggest other Tory donors have applied.

The Tories' 2015 election manifesto pledged an in-out referendum on leaving the European Union, which Leave won. The party has since swung behind taking Britain out of the EU, which will strip most Brits of EU citizenship and their freedom of movement.

Boris Johnson made "get Brexit done" his campaign slogan and the centre of his campaign in this month's election, in which he won a substantial majority in the House of Commons.

The news agency says that the Cypriot government documents show that Mr Howard, as well as Mr Isaacs and his wife all sought Cypriot citizenship in 2018. 

Reuters said a spokesperson for Mr Howard declined to comment, while Mr Isaacs did not respond to requests for comment, and that his assistant said he was traveling and unavailable. 

The Independent has attempted to reach both men for comment but has also been unable to do so. The Conservative Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, commented: "Conservative party donors, backing Brexit but at the same time seeking EU citizenship via Cyprus. Pardon my French but ordinary British citizens are being screwed over by their elite."