Boris Johnson warned 'more to come' amid leaks by Fleming
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has fallen into hot water amid growing calls for him to explain how the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat was paid for. His former adviser Dominic Cummings claimed the PM considered a “secret plan” to get Conservative donors to foot the refurbishment bill. One of his ministers has now said the PM covered the renovation costs “from his own pocket”.
In an explosive blog post, Mr Cummings accused Mr Johnson of plotting an “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” plan to get Tory donors to secretly fund the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.
The top former aide wrote: “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.”
Mr Cummings added: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”
The Labour Party is now calling on the Electoral Commission to legally summon Mr Johnson, Mr Cummings and Conservative officials to give evidence on how the PM paid for these refurbishment costs.
Labour lawyers said the matter was “incontrovertibly in the public interest”.
The party leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It matters. It is about integrity, it is about taxpayers’ money.
“Every day there is more evidence of this sleaze. Frankly, it stinks.
“If there is nothing to see here, whether it is the refurb of No 10, whether it is the dodgy contracts, whether it is the privileged access, if there is nothing to see, publish everything, have a full inquiry. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss declined to comment on whether Tory donors contributed to the renovation costs but added Mr Johnson had paid the bill himself.
She said she had been assured the rules for ministers had been fully complied with and those details would be declared publicly.
Ms Truss dismissed Mr Cummings’ allegations as “tittle-tattle”
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “I think this issue is a massive distraction from what we should be focussed on, which is how we are recovering from the pandemic, the vaccination programme and the work we’re doing to rebuild the economy.”
She added: “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.”
However, despite saying she was confident Mr Johnson had paid the costs, she repeatedly refused to make any comment as to when this happened amid suggestions a Tory donor initially offer to foot the bill.
She told Sophy Ridge: “All the details will be given out in line with the rules.
“There are certain reporting procedures and those procedures are being followed.”
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Social media users have been quick to express their outrage at the recent reports.
One wrote: “So are we now to understand a man who was reportedly ‘worried about money on a prime ministerial salary of £150,000’, paid £2.4m for the Downing St flat renovation ‘from his own pocket’? In who’s pocket was Boris Johnson’s pocket at the time, I wonder? And what kind of idiot pays”.
Another added: “Perhaps you could ask Malala to teach you basic arithmetic. You said that you could not afford to live on the PM’s salary but you managed to decorate No 10 out of your own pocket. How did the money get into your pocket? Who put it there?”
One person tweeted: “Boris Johnson has repeatedly said that “he can’t live on the pittance of a salary paid to the PM” it’s clear that he cannot have paid with his own money. Some organisation or individual has ‘provided him with that money. #ToryCorruption #NotFitForOffice”
However, some social media users were in support of the PM. One wrote: “It is daft that PM of whatever party is expected to live in poor digs that needed renovating but is expected to beg and scheme, to get it done because UK PLC is not paying, it’s not as if PM can keep it! It’s ready for next PM!”
How much does Boris Johnson earn?
A prime minister’s salary is made up of a parliamentary salary and a ministerial entitlement.
His ministerial entitlement is £81,932 a year, which has been in effect since April 2020.
Mr Johnson also receives an additional £79,469 for his role as PM. This brings his total salary to £161,401 a year.
Prime ministers are also entitled to a maximum public grant of £30,000 each year for the upkeep of their home.
Mr Johnson took a pay cut of more than £600,000 when he became leader of the Conservative Party and moved into Downing Street.
Before taking office, he had earned £275,000 a year from his weekly column in The Daily Telegraph and an estimated £400,000 a year from giving speeches.
Last year, friends of Boris Johnson expressed concern for him stating he is “miserable” and struggling to cope on his PM salary.
Sources close to the UK leader told The Times “like other Prime Ministers before him” he is “very, very badly served”.
The source told the publication: “He doesn’t have a housekeeper, he has a single cleaner and they’re worried about being able to afford a nanny.
“He’s stuck in the flat and Downing Street is not a nice place to live.
“It’s not like the Élysée or the White House where you can get away from it all because they’re so big.
“Even if he or Carrie [his partner] want to go into the rose garden, they have to go through the office.”
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