The Labour party has sold a stall at its party conference to a company led by a leading Conservative donor whose comments about “foreign Muslims” running urban areas were recently condemned by the Labour party chair, Anneliese Dodds.
The Tory donor, Maurizio Bragagni, has also criticised the Labour party for having an “anti-Judeo-Christian identity, which allows Islamic groups to feel at home” and said the party’s success in London was partly because “Muslims vote Labour”.
When an English translation of Bragagni’s comments was reported by the BBC in June, Dodds branded them “disgraceful” and said the Tories should be forced to explain why they were holding on to funds from someone who was so disparaging of the UK.
However, it has emerged that Labour appears to have sold a commercial stand to Bragagni’s company, Tratos (UK) Ltd, a cable manufacturer founded in Italy with significant facilities in the UK.
Tratos, of which Bragagni is CEO and chair, is using the stall to promote its campaign, Safer Structures, calling for regulatory changes. It is unclear how much that stall would cost Tratos, but a Labour conference sales guide suggests the space costs as much as £11,900.
His controversial remarks were made in a now-deleted comment piece published on the Italian news site Saturno Notizie in May.
Bragagni wrote that London was “a city that has been left worse than any African metropolis, with growing criminality, daily metropolitan dysfunction, chaotic travel, rampant confusion.
“And yet the Mayor Khan stays firmly in power, and in local boroughs … Labour grows. How is this possible? The ideological vote: religious and ideological. Muslims vote Labour, and in many boroughs, they have become the majority, and the vote transfers to Labour.”
The most recent ONS data, from 2018, showed no London boroughs with a majority of Muslims.
In his article, Bragagni continued: “The affinity between Islam and Labour has always existed. The same ideology of the master state, without a Judeo-Christian identity.
“Labour is a perfect boat without an identity, rather with an anti-Judeo-Christian identity, which allows Islamic groups to feel at home, to find free space for their own political ideology.”
He added: “The gap between the English Christian majority countryside and the cities, which are run by foreign muslims, is becoming more and more pronounced. There are places in which sharia is the de facto law.”
Bragagni told the Guardian his remarks had been taken out of context and were “totally wrongly translated” but declined to elaborate. He said that he “never knowingly offended anyone”, adding: “I apologise that my article originally written in Italian caused unnecessary controversy when fully translated in English.”
When the BBC unearthed Bragnani’s article in June, the Conservative party distanced itself from his comments. At the time, Dodds said: “It’s not enough for the Conservatives to condemn these disgraceful remarks. They need to explain why they’re holding on to so much money from someone who disparages this country in such an appalling way.”
Tratos also appears to have bought stalls at Labour conferences from 2017 to 2019, according to posts on its Twitter feed and the Safer Structures website. Bragagni declined to say precisely how much this year’s Labour party stall cost Tratos but said his company spent about £20,000 in total on the two major party conferences.
Electoral Commission records show that Bragagni has personally given more than £280,000 to Conservative MPs and the party, while Tratos UK Ltd has donated nearly £400,000 to Conservatives. Another company linked to Bragagni gave Gavin Williamson a £50,000-a-year second job.
Bragagni, a British citizen, was given an OBE in June 2021 “for services to business and voluntary political service”. He also holds positions as honorary consul of San Marino to the UK and as an adviser to the Department for International Trade, a position he said he was “hand-picked” for by the then trade secretary Liz Truss.
In previously unreported remarks published by Saturno Notizie in June 2021, Bragagni appeared to advance a theory about the involvement of the US in the origins of Covid-19.
He suggested there was “an established attempt to destroy democracy. Therefore I think that Covid is not a disease of natural origin, but of human origin, created by Chinese laboratories, entrusted to them by the Americans”.
“I really do not know why, but I can tell you that this is how the story went. Americans knew that the thing would get out of hand. Indeed, they were not able to handle it, and polluted the entire world.”
In his response to the Guardian, Bragagni declined to explain what he meant by the comment, but said this remark came from private correspondence that had been made public.
The Labour party were contacted for comment.