City tycoon Cruddas to join Tory Brexiteers in House of Lords

6 February 2020, 16:48 | Updated: 6 February 2020, 17:16

Peter Cruddas, one of the City's richest men, is to be handed a seat in the House of Lords as Boris Johnson swells the ranks of Brexit-backing Conservatives in the upper chamber.

Sky News can exclusively reveal that Mr Cruddas is on a list of nominees that will be considered by the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HoLAC) during the coming days.

Mr Cruddas, who founded the FTSE-250 financial services company CMC Markets with a £10,000 investment in 1989, will join fellow City heavyweight Michael Spencer on the list of new peers, insiders said on Thursday.

A prolific donor who has given more than £3.5m to the Tories, Mr Cruddas was one of the founders of Vote Leave and gave the campaign group £1.5m in the build-up to the 2016 referendum.

He was also among the substantial donors to Mr Johnson's leadership campaign last year, telling one interviewer: "I'm going to give him some money and back him.

"I think we need a Brexiteer as our next prime minister.

"The country voted to leave the European Union and I think we should have someone that delivered that, and it should be someone like Boris Johnson."

One of the City's most influential self-made businessmen, Mr Cruddas served as Tory treasurer until 2012, when his term was brought to an abrupt end by a cash-for-access story in The Sunday Times.

Mr Cruddas successfully sued the newspaper for libel, although his financial award was later reduced on appeal.

A Court of Appeal judgement found that while aspects of his conduct had been "unacceptable and wrong", it upheld the ruling of libel and malicious falsehood in his favour.

The tycoon was also exonerated by the Electoral Commission.

Since floating CMC on the London Stock Exchange in 2016, Mr Cruddas has seen the value of his 60.2% stake in the company fluctuate amid various threats of regulatory restrictions against the sector.

On Thursday, shares in the company closed at 169.6p, giving it a market value of £490m.

Its value has risen by more than 40% during the last year.

Mr Cruddas has built a reputation as a major philanthropist and has pledged to donate £100m to charity through his personal foundation.

As a big donor to Vote Leave, Mr Cruddas became an integral - albeit behind-the-scenes - figure in the campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

By contrast, Mr Spencer was a vocal member of the Remain camp, although he too subsequently helped swell Mr Johnson's leadership campaign coffers.

Mr Spencer, the founder of ICAP, has seen a number of previous efforts to install him in the Lords blocked on account of the company's involvement in the Libor rate-rigging scandal.

He was never personally implicated in any allegations of wrongdoing.

Having seen off the question marks against his reputation, the decision to ennoble Mr Spencer will come as little surprise.

He was among a group of substantial donors to Mr Johnson's leadership bid last summer, and over a long period has given millions of pounds to the Tories.

Friends estimate that he helped raise in excess of £100m for party coffers during his four years as treasurer, which culminated in him helping to corral the funds that took Mr Cameron into Downing Street in 2010.

Among the other nominees for peerages are expected to be two former Tory chancellors, Philip Hammond and Ken Clarke, according to the BBC.

There was speculation in the City on Thursday that Dame Helena Morrissey, a Brexit-supporting former executive at Legal & General Investment Management and now a board member at the wealth manager St James's Place, may also have been nominated by the PM.

In recent weeks, preparations for the latest crop of appointments to the Lords has been overshadowed by the presence - or otherwise - on the list of the former Commons speaker, John Bercow.

The appointments are expected to be announced as soon as next week.

Neither Mr Cruddas, CMC nor Dame Helena could be reached for comment.

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment.