A BILLIONAIRE who gave the Conservative Party £500,000 has given Keir Starmer a glowing endorsement on Newsnight.

John Caudwell, the founder of defunct mobile phone retailer Phones4u, said on Tuesday that Starmer's Labour – which he joined the same day – was in "complete alignment" with his "views as a commercial capitalist".

He said: "What Keir has done is taken all the left out of the Labour Party.

"He's come out with a brilliant set of values and principles and ways of growing Britain in complete alignment with my views as a commercial capitalist."

On Times Radio on Wednesday, he elaborated on what he aims to do for the party, saying: "I'm hoping to have some degree of influence in the Labour party to put them on certain correct pathways, if I believe they're not on the correct commercial pathway."

Starmer said he was "delighted" by Caudwell joining the party, and said that it was a sign that "business backs Labour".

He said: "I’m delighted that John, someone with such a successful track-record in business, has today thrown his support behind the changed Labour Party that I lead.

"The message is clear: business backs change and economic stability with Labour, and rejects five more years of chaos and decline with the Tories.

"John was not just a Conservative voter but a substantial donor to the Conservative Party in 2019 – so it’s not a decision that he will have taken lightly. But it’s clear that he shares my plan for growth that I set out in the Labour manifesto."

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Caudwell was a significant supporter of Boris Johnson and was a proponent of Brexit, saying that the threat of a no-deal departure from the EU would extract concessions from the bloc.

He said on Tuesday: “For many years now I have been rather despairing about the performance of the party that I have supported for the last 51 years: the Tories.

"I have been amazed by how Keir Starmer has transformed the Labour Party and brought it back from [the] Corbyn brink.

“When Labour launched its manifesto last Thursday, I was delighted to see that accelerating economic growth was front and centre, and that projected growth is clearly tied into making Britain a clean energy superpower."

Caudwell has supported the Tories for more than 50 years and was one of the biggest donors to the party in the run-up to the 2019 General Election. 

In addition to his £500,000 donation at the time of Johnson's premiership, he donated £2000 to MP Bill Cash's 2010 election fund.