PM says questions on Downing Street flat are ‘trivia’ ahead of elections

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson (PA Wire)
16:48pm, Mon 03 May 2021
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Boris Johnson has dismissed questions around renovations to his Downing Street flat as “trivia” amid a probe into how the refurbishments were funded.

The Prime Minister said that the public were “overwhelmingly” focused on issues such as crime and the coronavirus crisis, ahead of the elections on Thursday, while campaigning in Hartlepool.

It comes after the leader of the Scottish Conservatives said the Prime Minister should resign if he is found to have broken the ministerial code, amid an ongoing row over lobbying and allegations of cronyism by Labour.

Boris Johnson visit to Wales and the North East (PA Wire)

Asked about the renovations to the Number 11 flat, Mr Johnson told reporters: “All this kind of stuff is absolutely not relevant to this campaign.

“And what I think the people of this country want to know is, who has the policies, who is actually talking about the issues that matter to the people of this country.

“And we’re focused on improving our NHS, on making our streets safer, and above all, in rolling out the vaccine campaign and going down the road map in a cautious but we hope irreversible way and delivering change.

“I know that people want to focus on trivia, but I’m focusing on the issues that matter.”

The Electoral Commission last week launched an investigation into whether any donations or loans to pay for the lavish refurbishment of his Downing Street flat were properly declared.

New standards adviser Lord Geidt has also been tasked with reviewing the controversy, in an investigation expected to touch on whether he has breached the ministerial code.

I know that people want to focus on trivia, but I’m focusing on the issues that matter

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross said on Sunday that Mr Johnson should “of course” quit if he is found to have breached the code.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that other senior Conservatives should “follow suit” and insisted that holding the Prime Minister to account was not “party politics”.

He told reporters during a visit to Lewisham: “It’s very good to see senior Conservatives recognising the seriousness of the situation that the Prime Minister could be in and the implications of breaching ministerial code.

“Over the last week or so, some people have said holding the Government, holding the Prime Minister, to account, is somehow party politics.

“This demonstrates that it isn’t – there’s a shared, cross-party need to uphold standards in public office, and I think other senior Conservatives should follow suit now.”

Mr Johnson has denied breaking any laws over the refurbishment of his official residence in No 11 and insisted he had paid “personally” for the works, but has refused to say whether he received an initial loan from the Tory party.

Questions intensified when his former aide Dominic Cummings accused Mr Johnson of wanting donors to “secretly pay” for the works in a “possibly illegal” move.

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