Boris under pressure to reveal details of £200,000 Downing Street flat refurb

Boris Johnson is coming under increased pressure to explain how he paid for a lavish refurbishment of his Downing Street flat after Dominic Cummings said he had a ‘foolish’ plan to get donors to fund the work.

Questions have long been asked about the makeover of the living quarters above 11 Downing Street that the PM shares with fiancee Carrie Symonds.

But yesterday Mr Cummings blew the issue wide open by accusing his former boss of hatching an ‘unethical, foolish, possibly illegal’ plan to get Tory donors to secretly pay.

The Electoral Commission is already looking into whether any sums relating to the refurb should have been declared under the law on political donations.

The Government said for the first time on Friday that the Prime Minister paid for the revamp – reported to have cost £200,000 – out of his own pocket.

However, Labour said that Mr Johnson needed to explain how he obtained the money in the first place to pay for the work.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said the Government must publish any correspondence relating to payments or donations around the refurbishment.

‘We need to know the full amount that was spent and we need to know who paid for the work in the first place, who the Prime Minister now proposes to reimburse,’ the Labour MP told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

‘If people are making significant donations to the Conservative Party, to the Government, we need to know who they are so that we can make sure the Government isn’t doing favours for them in return.

‘That is what sleaze is all about. That is the behaviour of a tin-pot dictatorship. Britain, frankly, deserves a lot better than that.’

Conservative former attorney general Dominic Grieve – a long-standing critic of Mr Johnson – also called for transparency, describing the Prime Minister as a ‘vacuum of integrity’.

‘It is all smoke and mirrors. He hasn’t said when he decided to repay it or whether he has now repaid it,’ Mr Grieve told the Today programme.

‘The fact is that he did get, I think it has become quite clear, a significant gift towards the refurbishment of the flat.

‘My impression is there has been constant wriggling about the source of the money for this refurbishment.’

The claim was made by Mr Cummings in a blog attacking Number 10 after he was accused of leaking text messages exchanged between the Prime Minister and the entrepreneur Sir James Dyson over tax matters.

Mr Cummings’ left No 10 last year after clashing with Ms Symonds.

The former chief adviser accused Mr Johnson of seeking to stop an inquiry into the leak of plans for a second coronavirus lockdown after he was warned it could implicate Henry Newman, a close friend of his fiancee.

On Friday, the Prime Minister denied trying to block the leak inquiry, saying the public could not ‘give a monkey’s’ about such matters.

In relation to the refurbishment of the flat, Downing Street said that the Government and ministers had ‘acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law’ throughout.

The Electoral Commission contacted the Conservative Party a month ago over a reported £58,000 donation, which may have been used to temporarily cover the cost.

A spokeswoman has confirmed those talks were still continuing, adding they are working ‘to establish whether any sums relating to the works at 11 Downing Street fall within the regime regulated by the commission, and therefore need to be reported and subsequently published. The party is working with us on this.’

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