Boris Johnson refuses to say just who IS paying for Carrie Symonds’ £200,000 renovation of their Downing Street flat after denying claims that Tory coffers were raided to fund the lavish project
- PM forced on the defensive over where the cash for the project came from
- The Daily Mail on Saturday told Conservative Party funds met a large part of bill
- The PM’s allies today denied that Tory Party funds would be used
- But they declined to say who was paying for it until July at the earliest
Boris Johnson has refused to say if a lavish £200,000 refurbishment of his Downing Street flat orchestrated by Carrie Symonds was funded by Conservative funds or wealthy party donors.
The Prime Minister was forced on the defensive today over where the cash for the project was coming from, amid claims Tory coffers were raided.
The Daily Mail on Saturday was told that Conservative Party funds met a large part of the bill, but after being warned this could be ‘improper’, and amid a backlash from outraged party elders, the Tories are said to have tried to launch a cover-up.
The PM’s allies today denied that Tory Party funds would be used to pay for the refurbishment but declined to say who was paying for it.
Mr Johnson was put on the spot at a live Downing Street press conference tonight. asked if ‘the Conservative Party or party donors’ funded the work, he replied: ‘All I can say is that all such inquiries will be answered with the normal declarations in the normal way.’
The Prime Minister was forced on the defensive today over where the cash for the project was coming from.
Boris Johnson fears the final bill for Carrie Symonds’s lavish makeover of their Downing Street flat could be as high as £200,000
Aides would not confirm whether donations had been used to meet the cost of the renovations but said they would be properly declared if that was the case.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton told reporters: ‘Conservative Party funds are not being used to pay for any refurbishment of the Downing Street estate.’
The Conservative HQ ‘supports the leader of the Tory Party in their political activities but not in the way it is being accused of’.
Asked whether the party had encouraged donors to pay for the refurbishment, Ms Stratton said any donations would be declared through the Electoral Commission, the House of Commons’ register of members’ interests, or in ministerial transparency declarations.
‘At every twist and turn of this there will be records and reports,’ she said.
Details of the Downing Street works will be included in the Cabinet Office annual report due in July, she said.
Asked if that would include a list of donations, she said: ‘It will have the relevant level of information to make it clear what refurbishment and what renovations took place in the last year on Downing Street.’
She would not confirm that donations or gifts had contributed to the refurbishment, but told reporters: ‘I’m saying that all donations, gifts and benefits will be declared in transparency returns that you – we – will all get and be able to pore over in the fullness of time.’
One or more wealthy donors reportedly agreed to pay an equivalent sum into Tory coffers, apparently in the hope that party HQ’s involvement in the Downing Street affair would stay hidden.
It was reported on Friday that Conservative officials plan to declare the contribution to the Electoral Commission in an attempt to quell the furore.
The extraordinary developments came three days after this newspaper revealed that the Prime Minister planned to set up a charity, partly to raise money for the decor in the 11 Downing Street flat. Both Downing Street and Tory HQ were said to be ‘in meltdown’ yesterday as demands to come clean over the matter grew.
The Prime Minister told aides of his worries in crisis meetings on how to pay for his fiancee’s refurbishment (pictured)
The Daily Mail has been told that Mr Johnson was present when a plan was mooted to ask Tory donors – including environment minister Lord [Zac] Goldsmith, a close friend of Miss Symonds (pictured together alongside Sajid Javid)
Mr Johnson has said privately he feared the final bill for the refit, inspired by upmarket interior designer Lulu Lytle, could be as high as £200,000.
Mr Johnson investigated setting up a ‘Downing Street charity’ to try to recoup some of the money and aid efforts at preserving Numbers 10 and 11 for the nation.
The Mail understands there have been frantic discussions in Tory HQ and Downing Street since our disclosures. Senior civil servants are said to have warned that using a political party covertly to buy expensive wallpaper and furnishings for the residence of the Prime Minister and his partner could be a breach of Whitehall and parliamentary ethics rules.
Sir Alistair Graham, former head of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said such a plan would be ‘monstrous’.
Source: Read Full Article