Lord Cruddas, a staunch Boris Johnson backer and founder of trading firm CMC Markets, has endured a rough few days this week.
First came the confidence vote on Johnson on Monday, which the Prime Minister eventually scraped through. Ahead of the ballot, Cruddas – along with other prominent Tory donors – wrote to MPs urging them to back Boris, branding rebels in the party ‘foolish’.
With Westminster still in febrile mood, £110million was wiped of the Cruddas family fortune yesterday as CMC revealed profit more than halved to £92.1million in the year to March 2022.
Loyal: CMC Markets founder Lord Cruddas (pictured) – along with other prominent Tory donors – wrote to MPs urging them to back Boris, branding rebels in the party ‘foolish’
The shares tumbled by 21 per cent – slashing the value of the 57.6 per cent stake held by Cruddas and 3.1 per cent held by his wife Fiona.
The Tory peer, 68, still has an ample nest egg – and will collect another £20million in dividends after CMC said it would pay out half its profits to investors.
Such sums have become par for the course for Cruddas, whose company has helped to catapult him from an east London council estate to one of Britain’s richest businessmen.
Speaking to the Mail before the recent turmoil, the trappings of success were clear to see, from the watch on his wrist to the offer of a lift in his Bentley – his pride and joy.
His car collection, along with other luxuries, is documented in his recent book Passport To Success: From Milkman To Mayfair, which walks the reader through his rags-to-riches story.
Faced with the suggestion that mentions of his Mayfair mansion and flashy lifestyle may make him sound materialistic, Cruddas shrugs.
‘Probably true. I like nice things. I like to see some tangible things for my success.
‘But also whatever I’ve spent on material things, I’ve given more to charity. I like the luxury lifestyle. Don’t forget, I was brought up on a council estate, no hot water, no central heating.’
Born to an alcoholic father and a mother who worked hard as a cleaner, Cruddas left school at 15 with no qualifications. While his two brothers became taxi drivers, Cruddas had his sights set on working in the City skyscrapers which he once helped his mother clean.
CMC Markets has catapulted Lord Cruddas from an east London council estate to one of Britain’s richest businessmen
Initially he became a telex operator for Western Union. After climbing the ranks at several banks, in 1989 he set up CMC Markets – initially as a platform for investors to trade so-called leveraged – and derivative-type products, financial instruments which allow traders to bet on the price of an asset of commodity without actually owning it.
He wants to expand the firm to take on fund supermarkets like Hargreaves Lansdown – allowing savers to buy stocks and funds.
Part of the fall in CMC’s full-year profits was due to investment in this technology, while the remainder was due to lower trading income as the volatility seen during the pandemic began to fall away.
But the shake-up at CMC doesn’t mean Cruddas, a father of two, is giving his other responsibilities any less time. When we speak, he has jetted back to London from a family holiday in Marbella to take part in a series of votes in the House of Lords.
Cruddas’ loyalty to the Tory party, and to Johnson, is unwavering. He got to know the Prime Minister working on the Vote Leave campaign.
During the Partygate scandal, Cruddas stood by his leader – and even pumped in another £250,000 to the Tory party.
The ‘concerted media campaign to dislodge Boris is’, he says, ‘bang out of order because the British people put him in office – let them remove him.’
His dedication to the cause came despite an almighty bust-up with then-prime minister David Cameron, who ousted him as treasurer of the Tory party in 2012.
It followed a Sunday Times sting, which claimed to have caught Cruddas selling access to Cameron to wealthy Middle Eastern businessmen.
The legal battle which ensued between Cruddas and the Sunday Times clearly still irks him.
Thirteen chapters of his book are dedicated to it, and a large motivation behind its publication was the chance to ‘put the record straight’.
‘It was the embarrassment and the shame of seeing my name in the papers, and having Parliament debate something about me that wasn’t true,’ he says.
‘My daughter was invited by her boyfriend to go and meet his parents. The parents said: “We’re charging a quarter of a million if you come round here.” It was upsetting.’
The boyfriend was dumped.
Cruddas still managed to gain his peerage from Johnson – and is determined to play a prominent role in the Lords while still running his business. He grins: ‘I’m not going to allow myself to get old – that’s for others.’