Questions for Boris Johnson continue over funding of flat refurbishments

General view of 10 Downing Street, London, in the rain (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
14:25pm, Tue 27 Apr 2021
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Boris Johnson was facing mounting questions over how refurbishments of his Downing Street flat were paid for, as No 10 declined to deny he received a loan from the Conservative Party.

Downing Street insisted the Prime Minister “has acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law” in defending his conduct on Tuesday.

He was facing continued questions of how the refurbishments were paid for, after former aide Dominic Cummings said Mr Johnson wanted donors to “secretly pay” for the work in an “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” move.

The Tories also declined to deny a suggestion, first reported by ITV, that the Conservative Campaign Headquarters paid the Cabinet Office to cover initial costs of the refurbishments, with Mr Johnson now repaying the party.

Labour said there are “crucial puzzle pieces missing”, and that the “stench around who may have lent him up to £200,000 for the refurb… will only grow” unless Mr Johnson publishes the long-delayed list of ministers’ interests.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that list, last published in July, would not be updated until after No 10 appoints a new independent adviser on ministerial standards.

Sir Alex Allan resigned from the role in November in response to Mr Johnson standing by Home Secretary Priti Patel despite an investigation finding her conduct “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying”.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “Any costs of the wider refurbishment in No 10 have been met by the Prime Minister and he has acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law.”

He was pressed on a denial by then Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton on March 8.

“Conservative Party funds are not being used to pay for any refurbishment of the Downing Street estate,” she had told reporters.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Justin Tallis/PA) (PA Wire)

But asked about suggestions to the contrary, the spokesman said: “I’ve seen the reports and the speculation on that, I’m not going to jump ahead of any potential declarations that need to be made.”

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has been tasked with reviewing the refurbishment of the flat in No 11.

The head of the Civil Service said there is a budget of up to £30,000 per year for prime ministers to renovate their Downing Street residency, with any costs beyond that met privately by those in office.

Last week, the Daily Mail published details of an email from Tory peer Lord Brownlow in which he said he was making a £58,000 donation to the party “to cover the payments the party has already made on behalf of the soon-to-be-formed ‘Downing Street Trust’”.

Labour has called for a full investigation by the Electoral Commission into the situation.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The declaration of interests that will be made available once we’ve appointed the replacement for Alex Allan, that work is in train.

“One of the first things that person will then do is then look at the ministerial interests and then make sure they can be published in the normal manner.”

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