PM is not sleazy says minister, following Downing Street refurb claims

Carrie Guzman
April 26, 2021

Dominic Cummings, who left Johnson's staff suddenly late past year having been his most influential adviser on Brexit and the 2019 election campaign, said in a blog on Friday he had told Johnson he thought his plans to have donors pay for the renovation were "unethical, foolish, possibly illegal".

In an apparent reference to the briefings battle with former de facto chief of staff Mr Cummings, Ms Green said the Government had been "fighting like rats in a sack".

Over the weekend, the International Trade Secretary Liz Truss insisted Mr Johnson had complied fully with the rules and had paid for the refurbishment, which reportedly ran to £200,000, out of his own pocket.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally covered the cost of refurbishing his Downing Street flat, a minister said, seeking to quash claims by Johnson's former top adviser that the prime minister had planned to get donors to pay for it secretly.

However, Labour said that Mr Johnson needed to explain how he obtained the money in the first place to pay for the work overseen by his fiancee Carrie Symonds.

But a new Opinium survey released on Saturday revealed nearly 37% of Britons described Mr Johnson as mostly or completely corrupt, compared with just 16% for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. It is about taxpayers' money. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant".

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said it was "not true" to suggest Mr Johnson made that comment, while Health Minister Nadine Dorries said it was an "outright lie".

"It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves", Cummings said.

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"We have engaged with the Electoral Commission and we will continue to engage with that".

Asked Friday by Britain's LBC radio station if he had tried to block the leak inquiry, the prime minister replied, "No, of course not".

Accusations from Cummings, who resigned last November, are highly significant; he was at the heart of government following his key strategic role in Britain's exit from the European Union, which ultimately led to Johnson winning a landslide general election victory in December 2019.

In a statement, Johnson's Downing Street office said the prime minister had "never interfered" in the inquiry and that the government had "acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law" on issues involving the funding of the apartment refurbishment. He had become an increasingly controversial figure within the corridors of power, especially after he drove 400 kilometres to his parents' house in Durham, northeast England, at the end of March 2020 while the country was under a "stay-at-home" lockdown order.

Last night in a tweet, Cummings appeared to criticize the government's failure to introduce travel bans earlier in the pandemic.

The move came after claims from his former adviser.

Cummings is expected to launch a fresh attack over the government's handling of Covid-19 when he appears before a parliamentary committee on May 26.

Who initially paid to "tart up" the prime minister's Downing Street flat?

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