politics

Dominic Raab hosts lavish party for donors and activists at grace-and-favour mansion


Mr Raab hosted 50 donors and supporters at Chevening House, the Foreign Secretary’s official taxpayer-funded mansion – as he doubles the number of activists and campaign staff in a desperate bid to hold on to his seat

Dominic Raab at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London last week

Dominic Raab held a lavish “thank you” party for 50 donors and supporters at his taxpayer-funded grace and favour mansion, it can be revealed.

Strategy documents seen by the Mirror reveal the Tory Deputy Prime Minister’s desperate bid to hold on to his seat – boosting fundraising and doubling the number of paid campaign staff and party volunteers to stave off a challenge from the Lib Dems.

The event took place on Saturday 4 September – just hours after Mr Raab returned from an emergency diplomatic visit to Pakistan following the fall of Kabul – at Chevening House, the Foreign Secretary’s official residence.

The Ministerial Code says “Government property should not generally be used for constituency work or party activities” – though residences can be used in some circumstances, as long as all costs are covered by the party.

Mr Raab’s spokesperson confirmed the bash took place, but did not say how much it cost or whether it would be declared.

As many as 50 donors, activists and local councillors enjoyed hospitality at the bash, where Mr Raab gave a speech on the steps of the mansion, overlooking 3,500 acres of garden and a lake.








Chevening House, the Foreign Secretary’s 115-room mansion
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Image:

PA Archive/Press Association Images)



Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said: “It is staggering that just days after the fall of Kabul, Dominic Raab appears to have been using Chevening House to host a do for his local Conservative party.

“While Afghan interpreters were desperately trying to escape the Taliban, the then Foreign Secretary was apparently busy giving a tour of his country mansion to local Tory activists.

“This raises serious questions over whether an official residence has been used to boost local Tory campaigning efforts. Mr Raab must publish details of how much was spent to rent Chevening House, who paid for this visit and whether it has been used to host other local party political events.

“It shows yet again why Dominic Raab is not fit to be a government minister or to represent the people of Esher and Walton.”

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said: “It is staggering that just days after the fall of Kabul, Dominic Raab appears to have been using Chevening House to host a do for his local Conservative party.

“While Afghan interpreters were desperately trying to escape the Taliban, the then Foreign Secretary was apparently busy giving a tour of his country mansion to local Tory activists.”








Dominic Raab on the steps of Chevening House on September 10, a few days after the event
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Image:

Getty Images)



She added: “This raises serious questions over whether an official residence has been used to boost local Tory campaigning efforts. Mr Raab must publish details of how much was spent to rent Chevening House, who paid for this visit and whether it has been used to host other local party political events.

“It shows yet again why Dominic Raab is not fit to be a government minister or to represent the people of Esher and Walton.”

Mr Raab’s majority in his ‘blue wall’ Esther and Walton seat collapsed from 23,298 to just 2,743 in the 2019 General Election.

Polling suggests Mr Raab’s enthusiastic support for Brexit has hurt him in the leafy, prosperous Surrey constituency – which has elected Conservatives for more than 100 years.





And after the Lib Dems’ shock victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election in June, party bigwigs have been nervous about Mr Raab suffering a ‘Portillo moment’ – and losing the seat at the next election.

The Mirror revealed in September that Mr Raab was hiring a full-time ‘campaigns assistant’ to help him hold on to his seat.

Some £40,000 was donated to Mr Raab between June and October in the wake of the Chesham and Amersham poll.

And today it can be revealed Mr Raab plans to increase the number of party volunteer campaigners in his seat from 25 to 50, and boost the number of paid campaign staff hours per week from 40 to 104.



A leaked strategy document also set out a target of increasing local Tory Party membership numbers to 1,000.

Chevening, in northern Kent, has been the subject of a Cabinet row in recent months, with both Mr Raab and Liz Truss, his successor as Foreign Secretary determined to retain access to the 115-room house.

Mr Raab argued that despite being ousted as Foreign Secretary in the reshuffle, he should still have use of Chevening – as former Deputy PM Nick Clegg did during the coalition years.

Boris Johnson eventually ordered Mr Raab and Ms Truss to share the property.

A spokesperson for Mr Raab said: “An event to thank volunteers in September was paid for in full by the local association.”


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