Boris Johnson is facing growing pressure about the source of a £58,000 loan given to him to pay for the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, with Labour today accusing the Prime Minister of lying.
Johnson has now paid the cost of the refurbishment out of his own pocket, however multiple media outlets have reported that this was only after he was given a previously undisclosed loan by the Tory party.
The Daily Mail reports that the money for the loan came through a donation by Lord David Brownlow – the very same man cabinet secretary Simon Case yesterday said was being considered as the inaugural head of a future Downing Street trust.
It is a requirement by law that all party political donations are disclosed through the Electoral Commission, however the flat refurbishment costs were never recorded.
One Tory MP told City A.M. that the saga was an example of “stupidity and secrecy”.
Labour is now calling for a probe into the cost of the refurbishment and have accused the Prime Minister of overseeing a culture of cronyism and sleaze in government.
Speaking to the BBC today, Labour shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: “We really need to know who’s given the loan, who’s given the money, because we need to know who the prime minister…is beholden to.
“To be honest he lied yesterday – that’s not good enough.”
The Prime Minister’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton was questioned about the cost of the flat last month and said on multiple occasions that “Conservative Party funds are not being used to pay for any refurbishment of the Downing Street estate”.
This now appears to be untrue.
When asked on multiple occasions if Stratton was lying at the time, Johnson’s official spokesman today refused to answer.
“All I will do is point to the fact that the Prime Minister has paid for the wider refurbishment personally,” he said.
On the original source of the £58,000 refurbishment, the spokesman said: “I’ve seen reports and speculation, but I’m not going to jump ahead of any potential declarations that need to be made.”
Prime ministers receive £30,000 of public money each year to decorate their flat, however they are required to bear the cost of any further yearly upgrades.
It has been widely reported that the driver of the extra cost of the flat refurbishment was Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds.
Symonds reportedly described Theresa May’s previous set-up as a “John Lewis nightmare”.
She instead bought in furniture and interiors from boutique designer brands, which included wallpaper that costed £800 a roll.
One Tory backbencher told City A.M. that the flat refurbishment is “the least serious issue” of a number of allegations haunting the Prime Minister, but that it had been poorly handled.
“It’s an issue of stupidity and secrecy more than anything,” they said.
“It looks like it is from an undisclosed donor, but I think a lot of the public will struggle to see what the problem is.
“I think the only concern really is if the donor may or may not have had influence.”
The Prime Minister is facing attacks on multiple fronts, after a series of damaging leaks that have mostly been ascribed to former aide Dominic Cummings.
It was reported on Sunday night that Johnson said last year that he would rather see “bodies pile high in their thousands” than implement a third national lockdown, sparking outrage from the Labour benches.
The claim, first reported by the Daily Mail and corroborated by the political editors of ITV, BBC and The Guardian, has been denied by the Prime Minister.