Wednesday 7 April 2021 5:45 pm

Labour accuses Boris Johnson of breaking ministerial code in Sadiq Khan row

Labour has today accused Boris Johnson of breaking the ministerial code for using a Downing Street press conference to attack mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner is accusing the Prime Minister of using government resources for party political campaigning, a breach of the code, after Johnson said at Monday’s press conference that the “current Labour mayor” had “blown” Transport for London’s (TfL) budget.

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The ministerial code says “official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of party political material”, with Labour claiming that Downing Street’s new £2.6m media room counts as an official government facility.

Rayner also said the Prime Minister’s answer misled the public as Johnson said he had left TfL’s finances in “good, robust order” when he finished as London mayor in 2016 when it actually had £9bn in debt.

In a letter to the cabinet office, Rayner said: “The attack was political in nature, unprompted, and entirely unrelated to either the topic of the press conference or the question the Prime Minister was asked. 

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“The ministerial code, by which government ministers are bound, clearly states that official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of party political material. This includes the Prime Minister’s new media briefing room, which cost the British taxpayer £2.6m.”

The row was sparked when City A.M. asked Johnson at the press conference about why he hadn’t done more to protect London’s long term economic future.

When on the topic of TfL, Johnson said: “It is not through any fault of my own the current Labour mayor decided to blow them all on an irresponsible fares policy.”

Khan hit back at Johnson over social media, tweeting: “The PM lied yet again from £2.6m taxpayer-funded press conference.

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“Covid-19 is the sole cause of TfL’s challenges.

“Before the pandemic I was fixing his mess at TfL – reducing the deficit by 71 per cent compared to what he left.”