Dominic Johnson is a city financier and former business partner of Jacob Rees-Mogg (Image: gov.uk)
A former business partner of Jacob Rees-Mogg has been sacked as a government minister after less than a month, despite being given a peerage to do the job.
Conservative Party donor Dominic Johnson spent just 26 days as minister for investment after his appointment by Liz Truss on 2 October. His dismissal was as low-key as his appointment, confirmed by a short update to the gov.uk website today (31 October), which said he had left office on 28 October. Rees-Mogg himself resigned as business secretary ahead of new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle last week.
Shortly after Johnson’s appointment as a minister, he was given a seat in the House of Lords to allow him to carry out his role, becoming Lord Johnson of Lainston on 19 October. Despite no longer being a government minister, he will retain his peerage unless he chooses to give it up voluntarily.
Former Prime Minister Liz Truss faced criticism after appointing Johnson - although it was a relatively minor footnote in her disastrous 44-day reign in Downing Street. The move led to accusations of cronyism for her, as it came shortly after reports that her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng attended a champagne party with hedge fund managers on the night of the mini budget.
Johnson’s appointment was seized upon by Labour at the time. Shadow trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds described him as an “unelected asset fund manager” and “crony party donor”, and saying his appointment “beggars belief”.
Who is Dominic Johnson?
Johnson, who was born in 1974 and educated at Durham University, founded Somerset Capital Management with former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg in 2007. Somerset Capital Management is described as a seven billion dollar global emerging markets specialist investment company.
Before that he set up various dotcom businesses before moving into asset management in 2001, according to a biography on gov.uk. He was vice-chairman of the Conservative Party between 2016 and 2019 and was made a non-executive board member of the Department for International Trade in November 2020. In 2017 he was made a CBE.
He gave his friend David Cameron the use of his £2,650-a-week Chelsea house in 2016, after he stood down as prime minister - for which he declared a benefit of more than £37,000 in the register of MPs’ interests.
Is he a Tory donor?
Johnson is a substantial party donor who donated £338,391 to the Conservatives in cash and non-cash donations between 2006 and 2021.
What was the reaction to his appointment?
Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said at the time of his appointment: “After crashing the economy with unfunded tax cuts for the very wealthiest earners, and lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses, it beggars belief that the Conservatives have appointed an unelected asset fund manager to the Government – who just happens to be a crony party donor.
“As millions of working people face agonising choices about what essentials they can afford, Liz Truss – once again – shows she is not on their side.”