by Oleg Burunov
Earlier this month, Boris Johnson’s press secretary Allegra Stratton told reporters that Conservative Party funds were “not being used to pay for any refurbishment of the Downing Street estate”.
A UK Labour Party lawmaker has urged Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to open a probe into whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson broke the ministerial code in terms of paying for refurbishment of his posh Downing Street flat.
Case was asked to investigate the “eye-watering” sums thought to have been spent on the makeover, which included gold wall coverings, among other things.
Like some of his predecessors, 56-year-old Johnson lives in the flat above No. 11 Downing Street, with his 33-year-old fiancée Carrie Symonds and their son Wilfred.
In a letter to Case on Thursday, Labour MP Sarah Owen called for “transparency and clear explanations” over the “murky” payments pertaining to the makeover.
“It is vital the facts behind the costs of this refurbishment are established and published in full. This isn’t just about whether the taxes of hardworking people have contributed to spun gold wallpaper. The lack of openness means that there are so many questions relating to matters of transparency, probity, judgment, and whether the ministerial code has been broken”, the lawmaker argued.
She underscored the code stipulates that ministers should shun being involved in any actual or perceived conflict of interest between their position and their private financial interests.
The letter comes about a week after UK media reports that the country’s Electoral Commission contacted the Conservative Party over an alleged payment for the recent refurbishment of Johnson’s four-bedroom flat above 11 Downing Street.
The elections watchdog sought to establish whether any sums relating to the revamp failed to be declared under the law on party political donations. The Tory party allayed concerns, insisting that was in full compliance with the law, and that all reportable donations had been correctly declared.
The developments followed previous reports by the Daily Mail claiming that approximately £60,000 ($82,608) in party funds were used to help cover the reported £200,000 ($277,400) cost of refurbishing Johnson’s official flat.
In March, the Daily Mail reported that as the UK prime minister and his fiancée looked into options for covering any excess expenditures related to the flat’s makeover, there had been talk of establishing a charity for the purpose.
Johnson also reportedly bemoaned the cost of the refurbishment by Symonds as “totally out of control”, something the prime minister allegedly admitted was “over a hundred grand”. The Daily Mail additionally cited unnamed sources as saying that the PM revealed to one minister he was especially alarmed by the cost of the “gold wall coverings” chosen by his fiancée.