Boris Johnson was caught out in yet another lie yesterday after an official probe found a Tory donor paid for his flat refurbishment.
At the end of April the prime minister told MPs that he had stumped up the cash for the expensive refit himself, which included wallpaper that cost £840 a roll.
He said: “I paid for the Downing Street refurbishment personally”, adding “any further declaration that I have to make – if any – I will be advised upon by Lord Geidt”, the new adviser on ministers’ interests.
Responding to the claim, Sir Keir Starmer said: “Well, somebody here isn’t telling the truth. The House will have heard the Prime Minister’s answer and I remind him that the Ministerial Code says, and I quote, ‘ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation’”.
“Who initially, and Prime Minister, initially is the key word here, who initially paid for the redecoration of his Downing Street flat?”
Boris Johnson replied: “As for the latest stuff that he is bringing up, he should know that I have paid for Downing Street refurbishment personally.
“And I contrast it… any further declaration that I have to make, if any, I will be advised upon by Lord Geidt.”
Didn’t Johnson say to Starmer in PMQs that he paid for the Downing Street flat refurbishment personally? But according to Geidt he had no knowledge of the £200,000 approx cost being paid by Brownlow. So how does that work?— Kate Wilton (@KateWilton1) May 28, 2021
Yesterday an official probe found the Conservative Party and one of its donors initially paid the costs of refurbishing Johnson’s Downing Street flat.
Work began on the No.11 flat the prime minister shares with Carrie Symonds when he was in hospital with Covid in April 2020, with the final bill reportedly amounting to tens of thousands of pounds.
The first round of invoices were paid for by the taxpayer, through the Cabinet Office, and then charged to the Conservative Party in June 2020, according to Lord Geidt.
Tory donor Lord Brownlow, who had been appointed to set up a Downing Street trust to cover the costs, then personally paid another bill for the refurbishment directly to the supplier in October that year.
Throughout this time, Johnson believed that a Downing Street trust was being set up to cover the costs, to be chaired by Brownlow, but in autumn last year it appeared that this was “still likely to be many months off”, Geidt said.
There was “no evidence” to suggest that Johnson was aware of who was paying for the refurbishment.
But when reports started appearing in the media in February 2021 about the work, the PM took advice about his ministerial interests and settled the cost on March 8.
Geidt said the PM was nevertheless “unwise” to allow the refurbishment of the flat to proceed “without more rigorous regard for how this would be funded”.
But the adviser said Johnson had not broken the ministerial code, because no conflict of interest arose from the affair, Geidt said.
Yeah right ?— Tonia Antoniazzi MP ? (@ToniaAntoniazzi) May 28, 2021
Pull the other one Boris it’s got bells on! https://t.co/9AC1jlQGPq