Louise Minchin quizzes Ben Wallace on Boris Johnson claims
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Boris Johnson is facing questions and calls for an inquiry into his actions relating to recent renovations at his London home, No 11 Downing Street. The Prime Minister has been accused of masterminding an “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” plan to get Conservative donors to foot the bill for a costly refurbishment of his Downing Street flat. The PM’s former top aide Dominic Cummings claimed Mr Johnson had a “secret plan” to get Tory donors to pay for the renovation costs of his Downing Street home.
The top former aide wrote: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”
Mr Cummings added: “Re the flat. The Prime Minister’s DOC has also made accusations regarding me and leaks concerning the PM’s renovation of his flat.
“The PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended.
“I refused to help him organise these payments. My knowledge about them is therefore limited.
“I would be happy to tell the Cabinet Secretary or Electoral Commission what I know concerning this matter.”
Another Government minister defended the PM saying renovation costs were paid “from his own pocket”.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss called the allegations made by Mr Cummings’ “tittle-tattle”.
She told Sky News: “I have been assured that the rules have been fully complied with and I know that he has met the costs of the flat refurbishment.
“I absolutely believe and trust that the Prime Minister has done that.
“What people want to know is that in line with the rules the prime minister has met the cost of this refurbishment.
“That has happened. All the costs will be declared in line with the rules.”
But how much did the PM and his fiancee Carrie Symonds spend on renovating No. 10?
How much did Boris Johnson flat refurb cost?
Boris Johnson lives with his fiancee Carrie Symonds and son Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson at Downing Street.
In accordance with the rules surrounding expenses and salaries of politicians, prime ministers are entitled to a maximum public grant of £30,000 a year for the upkeep of their home.
Tony and Cherie Blair spent thousands turning the four-bedroomed London flat into a family home during Mr Blair’s tenure as PM.
David and Samantha Cameron also extensively refurbished the flat.
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Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds are believed to have carried out work on the flat, most of which was understood to be undertaken in early March.
The couple wanted to transform the flat from Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May’s “John Lewis furniture nightmare” into a “high society haven”, according to Tatler.
The full cost of the renovation has not been revealed to the public, however, the PM reportedly asked Tory donors to contribute to the cost of redecorating amid fears Ms Symonds’ spending was “out of control” according to The Daily Mail.
In one email, sent in October and seen by the publication, alleged Tory donor Lord Brownlow said he had given £58,000 to cover payments “the party has already made”.
Lord Brownlow added that the donation should be attributed to the “soon to be formed Downing Street Trust”.
A statement from the Cabinet Office yesterday revealed Mr Johnson had repaid the £58,000 donated by Tory peer Lord Brownlow of Shurlock Row.
Reports suggest interior designer Lulu Lytle was involved with the upgrade at Downing Street – with a refit by this designer rumoured to run into six figures.
In a statement to parliament, Cabinet Office minister Lord True confirmed that works took place during the 2020/21 financial year on painting, sanding and floorboards in the flat.
Lord True did not confirm the final refurbishment bill total, but he said: “Any costs of wider refurbishment in this year have been met by the Prime Minister personally.”
The Labour Party is demanding a “full investigation” into the refurbishment of the flat, calling for a breakdown of costs to be shared with the public.
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