Atlantic Bridge: Tory Travel Club

‘When events occur in America, expenses are paid by the Atlantic Bridge Inc (US), run by Scott Syfert. If a British citizen wishes to attend an event in the US… the UK charity will accept the donations on behalf of Atlantic Bridge Inc.’
Atlantic Bridge Trustees Report & Financial Statement

It seems that if you are lucky enough to qualify for an Atlantic Bridge jolly – that is to say you’re a top Tory who needs to get chummy with an American Conservative – your donation to the Atlantic Bridge (UK) will qualify you to have your expenses paid by Atlantic Bridge, Inc (US).

As a higher rate taxpayer, a £1,000 trip to see comedian James Hirsen in LA, for example, would be covered by a £600 donation. The remaining £400 would then be claimed from British taxpayers. It sounds like an invitation to take part in well planned, systematic corruption.

You might think that Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs would have something to say about that. The good news is that they do and their strict limits on what a charity may give a donor mean that a £1,000 trip to the USA could never be legitimate.

One does wonder who qualifies to have their US travel expenses paid in return for donations. It sounds like such a good deal and yet nobody has admitted taking them up on the offer.

Of course a clever Tory could get someone else to make the donation on their behalf. Lucky Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon, has declared trips to the USA funded by the Atlantic Bridge and so must be very important. There’s nothing to say he made a donation to qualify for his jolly.

Other Conservative MPs appear less fortunate. They have instead declared USA travel and accommodation to have been ‘met by Dr Liam Fox’s office from a donation by Mr Michael Lewis, a businessman from London.’

Dr Liam Fox chairs the Atlantic Bridge (UK), Michael Lewis is an Atlantic Bridge donor and yet declarations like this make no mention of the Atlantic Bridge. The Tory MPs involved appear to be too junior to receive the charity’s support.

Conservative MPs who have declared USA travel and accommodation to have been ‘met by Dr Liam Fox’s office from a donation by Mr Michael Lewis, a businessman from London,’ include Mark Harper of Forest of Dean; John Penrose of Weston-Super-Mare; Brooks Newmark of Braintree; and Philip Dunne of Ludlow.
Posts on the Atlantic Bridge are collected here.