It was perhaps unsurprisingly, Boris Johnson hastily appeared to escape the House of Commons chamber once MPs voted in favor of his controversial social care reforms.
Not only had he risked the ire of voters and Conservative colleagues alike by unveiling a package that would have forced taxpayers to pay a £36bn bill, he had breached previous commitments in the process.
But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the prime minister has actually left Westminster so he could spend the evening with billionaires, financiers and other wealthy Tory donors.
Within seconds of the result of the vote being announced at 7:28 p.m. Wednesday, Johnson rose from his seat and hurried to the door.
The prime minister fled Westminster so he could spend the evening with billionaires, financiers and other wealthy Tory donors at an event at Hertford House (pictured)
After a two-mile journey through central London, he got out of his chauffeured car minutes later in the courtyard of Hertford House, home to the famous Wallace Collection of art treasures.
Shortly afterwards, Chancellor Rishi Sunak arrived.
Packed with old masters and thousands of artifacts, the venue promises a ‘taste of old-world glamor in the heart of London’ to anyone willing to pay up to £12,000 to rent a room for a reception. It was hired on this occasion by the Conservative Party Treasurer’s Group.
About 70 donors were invited to mingle with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Sunak. With guests arriving shortly before 7pm for drinks and appetizers, someone was heard to say, “They’re coming after the vote.”
Former Tory party treasurer Lord Howard Leigh gave a speech, followed by comments from Mr Johnson, who was described as ‘exuberant’.
Other senior Tories in attendance included Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, Vaccines Secretary Nadhim Zahawi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield.
Meanwhile, names on the guest list included British-Australian businessman Michael Hintze, whose net worth is estimated at £1.5 billion and who has donated millions to the Conservatives.
Malik Karim, the investment banker who founded Fenchurch Advisory Partners, was also in attendance, as was Lord Rami Ranger, a businessman who contributed more than £1 million to the party treasury and received a peerage from Theresa May.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (photo arrived at the event) arrived shortly after after voting for Boris Johnson’s controversial social care reforms in the House of Commons
But while sources said Mr Johnson looked like a leader at the height of his political power, the timing of the event will no doubt raise questions about his judgment – as it did shortly after MPs voted to increase spending on the NHS and social care with a levy from the national insurance schemes and increases in the dividend tax.
The event came after the Prime Minister launched a series of maneuvers to outwit his opponents, including the threat of a cabinet reshuffle to push through his plans to finally solve the UK’s social care crisis, which he had been battling for two years. the steps of Downing Street had promised suffered.
The huge political gamble meant breaking two pledges in the manifesto and raising the UK’s tax burden to its highest level in 70 years to around 35.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by the end of parliament.
Crucially, the move was seen by many traditional Tories as a definitive departure from low-tax conservatism.
The plans, which had been closely guarded for months, were fought out between Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak and Health Minister Sajid Javid.
The three initially planned to announce the changes in July to coincide with Mr Johnson’s second birthday as Prime Minister, but that timetable was shelved when Mr Javid was diagnosed with Covid-19 and Mr Johnson became ‘ pinged’, so both had to isolate themselves .
In the final days of the summer recess, reports began to circulate that the plan would be unveiled once parliament returned.
Then details began to leak out, initially about the increase in National Insurance, sparking a furious response from the Tory that young people should pay for care for retirees.
At the time, however, there was nothing definitive, with the Treasury eager to effectively hand over a blank check to the health department. There were intense talks last weekend, which Mr Johnson joined from Balmoral, where he and his wife Carrie were visiting the Queen.
As a result of the backlash, major changes were made: an increase in the dividend tax was included in the final package so that the wealthy would bear more of the burden.
About 70 donors (unknown donors in the photo) were invited to mingle with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak at Hertford House, home of the famous Wallace collection of art treasures
In the meantime, it was decided that working retirees would also pay the 1.25 percentage point increase in national insurance contributions.
It was also agreed that the triple lock on pensions would also be suspended for a year, saving the Treasury billions. Sunak attended a reception last Monday with MPs from the back seat, urging them to remain “loyal”, while party whips privately warned that a vote against Mr Johnson’s proposal would be construed as a vote of no confidence in his leadership .
Meanwhile, rumors began to circulate about an imminent cabinet reshuffle. Well-placed sources say the threat of relegation and hopes for promotions helped to assuage concerns in cabinets.
When the plans were presented Tuesday morning, only a handful of ministers expressed concern – including Trade Minister Liz Truss, EU Relations Minister Lord Frost and House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg – asking why the government could not borrow more money instead.
Mr Sunak said this would break the party’s pledge to voters to be fiscally responsible.
On voting day, Mr. Johnson met backbenchers at a 1922 Committee meeting – made up of all backbench Tories.
Only five Tory MPs voted against the tax hike, while about three dozen others abstained.
When MPs flocked to the Commons Terrace after the vote, neither Johnson nor Sunak were present.
Instead, they shrugged off super-rich donors.