IF Steven Spielberg were to make a more dystopian version of Gremlins, it wouldn’t be dissimilar to the misadventures unfolding right now among the UK Tories.

I’d love to see a cinematic version of what would happen when the wee furry toys that turn into psychopathic delinquents are reimagined as adults. The mayhem would be thrilling and much more fun than yet another zombie flick.

In the original Gremlins, all it took was the merest contact with water to affect the metamorphosis from benign to Beelzebub. With the Tories, all that’s required is the vague scent of money.

It doesn’t seem to matter if a Tory is already rich beyond any of our imaginations. The merest hint that more money can be made – and for minimal effort – turns them from temperate capitalists to crazed financial predators.

Yes, I know that party politics attracts a lot of greedy and grasping people who view the power and influence that it confers as a shortcut to wealth. Since the advent of Boris Johnson though, and the desperadoes who have profited from his annexation of 10 Downing Street, avarice – on a rapacious scale – has been the defining characteristic of the Tories’ last few years in power.

In their lexicon, there is no such thing as “enough” or “too much”.

In order to get at it, they scatter and lay waste to everything that stands in their path. Not even the financial rectitude demanded of those in high office can act as a brake to this genus of Toryism.

The first public manifestation of this psychosis began to be manifest early in Boris Johnson’s reign. Not content with the living quarters in a grand and opulent townhouse such as Number 10, he and his wife wanted to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on soft furnishings. Even though their joint incomes were probably close to half a million a year, this wasn’t considered sufficient to consider the cost of their home decor ambitions. And so, the word went out and a silver begging bowl was put around for soliciting donations to the wallpaper cause.

There’s no shortage of willing donors either. Since the Tories came to power in 2010, it’s become known amongst the richest people in the country that myriad opportunities exist to get their mitts on those ornaments that money can’t buy.

Fancy a knighthood? Yours for a £500k donation to the party. Have your eye on a decent wee chairmanship in the public sector? Well, how about arranging a large loan for starters?

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Fancy securing a seat in the Lords? It’s a beguiling prospect. Think of all those networking opportunities to advance your company’s business interests. Perhaps you could pay £250k for a game of tennis with the PM or a private dinner with him and some of his Cabinet secretaries.

It’s at this point that the rest of us begin to think about the shame factor. Most ordinary people, including those in the lowest income bracket, have their own red lines when it comes to common financial probity. For the sake of appearances, many of us will travel to inordinate lengths not to be seen to be begging or soliciting for cash.

You see this every week among those forced to use food banks.

In writing about some of these places, I’ve met several decent and hard-working people who talked of their humiliation at being forced to rely on the kindness of others.

It was a solution of last resort for most of them, usually triggered by the prospect of their children going hungry.

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For Boris Johnson and his Tories, the red lines separating decency from shame are either non-existent or set very low indeed. It’s now emerged that Johnson was desperately looking for more money – around £800k – to help maintain his luxury lifestyle as prime minister. Step forward Richard Sharp who helped broker the required loan. What a kind and helpful chap.

Sharp is a former banker who, in late 2020, introduced his friend Sam Blyth to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to discuss the prospect of Blyth acting as guarantor for a loan facility for the prime minister.

A few months later, Sharp became chairman of the BBC, having never previously displayed any aptitude or experience that he might reasonably have been expected to possess for the job of running the UK’s largest news operation.

READ MORE: BBC chair Richard Sharp to be quizzed by MPs over Boris Johnson loan

It seems that in the midst of a lethal pandemic which killed more than 150,000 Britons, Johnson was operating a Mafia enterprise inside Downing Street. When he wasn’t grubbily soliciting for hand-outs, he was overseeing an under-the-counter operation where a select few family and friends could make millions from a suite of unique opportunities in the temporary (but lucrative) PPE sector. Just dream up a name, get it registered and Bob’s yer uncle; Fanny’s yer auntie, away you go.

Now, the multi-millionaire chairman of the UK Conservative Party, Nadhim Zahawi is facing questions over his tax affairs.

This is still subject to an internal inquiry about when he settled a reported £5m bill with HMRC, but a number of questions remain about whether he had concluded this before (briefly) becoming chancellor of the Exchequer last year.

Yet, as a former HMRC chief said yesterday, it’s astonishing that there appears to have been some kind of dispute between Zahawi and the tax body of which he was effectively boss.

The sums in question relate to the disposal of Zahawi’s polling company. The term “off-shore tax haven” and Gibraltar feature heavily in these transactions.

Zahawi’s boss is Rishi Sunak who may be asked very soon to rule on Zahawi’s fitness to be chairman of the party.

The National: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he cannot wave a magic wand to resolve the NHS pay dispute (Toby Melville/PA)

Sunak, reckoned to be the richest Prime Minister in UK history, is no stranger to the use of esoteric tax instruments to protect his family’s fortune either.

Last year, the Labour Party accused him and his family of avoiding tens of millions of pounds in taxes through his wife’s “non-dom” status. At the same time, Sunak, as chancellor, was raising the taxes of the British public.

Finally, his wife, Akshata Murty realised her tax arrangements weren’t exactly compatible with her husband being, you know, in charge of the nation’s tax system.

She would now pay tax on all future worldwide income and cited the “British sense of fairness” as though paying a fair percentage of your income to the taxman was something strange and unusual.

It may emerge that some of the multi-millionaires who comprise recent Tory Cabinets actually use normal High Street banks, using normal bank accounts based in Britain. And that they fill out their tax forms like everyone else.

But I’ll wait.