Boris Johnson moves out of Downing Street to spend the rest of his premiership at Chequers

·5-min read
Removal vehicles in Downing Street as Boris Johnson moves out of the flat above No 11 - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph
Removal vehicles in Downing Street as Boris Johnson moves out of the flat above No 11 - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

Only the wallpaper appears to be staying. Removal men spent Monday loading up two lorries with the contents of the flat above Number 11 Downing Street that has been Boris and Carrie Johnson’s home for just over three years.

The Johnsons avoided the trauma of watching their flat being stripped bare by remaining out of the country on holiday in Greece.

Two removal trucks were needed to store possessions while the couple work out where they will live after Mr Johnson hands over power to his successor in the first week of September.

They will spend the final weeks of his premiership at Chequers before, according to one source, moving temporarily into a house or apartment provided by a friend, or possibly a Conservative Party donor.

The couple’s Victorian terraced home in Camberwell, south London, which was bought shortly before Mr Johnson became Prime Minister, is currently up for sale for £1.6 million. The Johnsons have concluded that the house is not suitable for security reasons, but sources claimed they could not buy a new property until the old home was sold.

The Downing Street flat was refurbished by Lulu Lytle, the designer, at a cost of £112,000, partly – and controversially – funded by Lord Brownlow, a Tory party donor.

The redecoration included wallpaper at £1,500 and two sofas costing £7,500 each. Mr Johnson eventually paid for the refurbishment himself after a public outcry.

Downing Street said all furniture paid for by the Johnsons would be going with them. Among the items removed on Monday was a huge, white rattan wardrobe – likely to be a bespoke piece provided by Ms Lytle, an ardent promoter of rattan furniture.

A large white wardrobe is taken away from Downing Street - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph
A large white wardrobe is taken away from Downing Street - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

The speed with which Mr Johnson was ousted, a little more than two years after winning a landslide election, has taken the couple – who now have two young children – by surprise.

A source said the flat move had been timed to coincide with their family holiday to provide easier access for the removal firm – the same one used by Theresa May after she was forced out of power.

“We want to make the transition as smooth as possible. This is a convenient time to move some of the big stuff out,” the source said.

According to aides who have worked alongside Mr Johnson for years, he remains “in shock” at the “speed and brutality” of his ousting from Number 10.

One senior Downing Street adviser said Mr Johnson’s fury at his betrayal by Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor whose resignation sparked his downfall, has turned to pity as he watches him trail Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race.

Mr Johnson is unsure what he will do next, with the spectre of an investigation by the House of Commons privileges committee into whether he misled MPs over partygate hanging over him.

The committee’s findings could derail his plan to continue as an MP.

Mr and Mrs Johnson are spending a week in Greece, having been spotted by locals shopping in a supermarket in Nea Makri, a town to the east of Athens. Mr Johnson’s father owns a holiday home in mainland Greece, but the couple are not thought to be using the villa because it was already rented out to a British family.

A well-placed source said the Johnsons would spend the remaining weeks of his premiership at Chequers.

“He has already spent most of his time there since the resignation,” said the source. “I think Boris will probably spend the odd day in Downing Street, but I think they will mainly be at Chequers.

“After he leaves office, they need to sell the house in Camberwell first before they can buy a new home. He doesn’t have family money and he might lose his salary as an MP. He will take the stuff he paid for out of Downing Street but he won’t be taking the wallpaper.”

The source suggested Mr Johnson was lining up a temporary home provided by a Conservative Party donor or wealthy friend at a reduced rent or free of charge while he sorts out his future.

Mr Johnson can charge six-figure sums for speeches on the lucrative US speaking circuit, while he also intends to complete his book on William Shakespeare.

Meanwhile, a Number 10 spokesman said on Monday that, under government rules, anything provided by taxpayer funding will remain in Downing Street, with Mr Johnson “able to take what was paid for himself”.

The two removal vans were provided by Bishop’s Move, a London-based company that provides the “highest level of moving service”, offering customers a “bespoke range of home moving services”.

Removal workers in Downing Street on Monday - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph
Removal workers in Downing Street on Monday - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

Ms May, who exited Downing Street through the back door, used the same company when she returned to live full-time at her home in her Maidenhead constituency.

David Cameron, his wife and three children stayed at the home of Sir Alan Parker, the public relations tycoon, in wealthy Holland Park, west London, following his sudden departure from Number 10.

Mr Johnson will carry on working from Downing Street before officially leaving office on Sep 6, according to sources. It is understood his team is lining up events for next week when he returns from the Greek holiday, and for the week after that.

The meetings are being planned around two themes – thanking those who have served the public during his premiership and highlighting previous policy drives.

“There will be events to show it is business as usual,” said one Downing Street insider, with the possibility of a final trip to Ukraine.

A Number10 spokesman confirmed the Prime Minister was on holiday for a week but said he was being “kept informed on any urgent issues” and able to make decisions on matters of national security.

Labour criticised Mr Johnson for taking a second summer holiday, accusing him of treating recent months as “one big party”. He was previously spotted in Slovenia.