Friday 21 January 2022

Tory donor to challenge UK government decision to block subsea project

The Ukraine-born tycoon involved in a proposed £1.2bn undersea cable project between the UK and France has said he will seek a judicial review against the decision by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to reject the project this week.

Alexander Temerko, a former arms executive and one-time director of Russian oil company Yukos, said lawyers from Herbert Smith would prepare their legal case over the next six weeks.

“It will be impossible for the government to defeat our challenge,” he told the Financial Times in an interview on Friday. “I have a very good case . . . the government cannot win.”

Temerko, who is vice-president of the Cities of London & Westminster Conservative Association, said he would continue to donate to the party irrespective of the government’s decision. “I love the Conservative party,” he said. “It’s not connected to my business interests. I started supporting the Conservative party before Aquind [was founded], probably 2010.”

Temerko hit out at what he called Mordaunt’s “political interference” in the project, arguing it was inappropriate for a sitting minister to speak out against it. He said it was “nonsense” to suggest that France might cut off future energy supplies to Britain. “It’s our neighbour, and France never creates tension or problems with electricity.”

Temerko said that the project — which would take two years to build — would have had the potential to deliver more than 5 per cent of Britain’s electricity needs. He said the scheme would have also helped to cut energy bills for households and businesses because France, with its large fleet of nuclear power plants, is less dependent on the international wholesale price of gas.


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