The Conservatives have been accused of “rewarding their chums” after a hedge-fund manager who has given the party almost £1.5m was handed a knighthood.
David Harding, the founder and chief executive of Winton Capital hedge fund, has donated £475,000 since Boris Johnson became prime minister in mid-2019.
He has been knighted in the new year honours list for services to philanthropy, having given large sums to the Science Museum and to the University of Cambridge.
But Anneliese Dodds, chair of the Labour Party, said: “It seems the Conservatives are ringing in the new year in exactly the same way they’ve seen out the old: by rewarding their chums with gongs instead of our key worker heroes.
“If you want Boris Johnson to recommend you for a knighthood, don’t bother working long hours on low wages to help others – just become a hedge-fund manager and donate half a million pounds to the Tories.”
Four more Conservative MPs received gongs, with a knighthood for backbencher Bill Wiggin, whose lucrative outside work for offshore investment firms – earning him £73,000 on top of his MP’s salary – has been criticised.
Robert Buckland, the former justice secretary sacked by Mr Johnson, and Robert Goodwill, a former minister backed by No 10 in a failed attempt to take over the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories, were also knighted.
Caroline Dinenage, another former minister sacked in September’s reshuffle, was made a dame.
Also under the new-year list, Tony Blair was appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry.
Frank Field, a Labour MP for 40 years and now a crossbench peer, was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour, an award limited to the sovereign and 65 recipients at any one time.
The prime minister has previously been criticised for nominating a string of major Tory donors – including former party treasurers – for peerages, as well as Brexit supporters.
However, Mr Harding was one of the biggest contributors to the Remain campaign to stay in the EU, to which he gave £3.5m.
He has previously suggested he would back state funding of political parties, saying in 2015: “I’ve given a bit of money to politics. I rather wish I didn’t have to.
“I’m sympathetic to the Tories and their approach to raising money, but also sympathetic to people who don’t like that in the UK.”
The Independent has asked Downing Street to respond to Labour’s attack.