Emily Thornberry Rips Into Boris Johnson Over Flat Refurb Row: 'He's Not A Truthful Man'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Emily Thornberry
    British politician (born 1960)
  • Boris Johnson
    Boris Johnson
    Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2019
Emily Thornberry hit out at Boris Johnson during Channel 4 News on Thursday (Photo: PA/Getty)
Emily Thornberry hit out at Boris Johnson during Channel 4 News on Thursday (Photo: PA/Getty)

Labour’s Emily Thornberry took aim at the prime minister on Thursday and declared that she “does not believe him” in the ongoing row over the funding for the No.10 flat refurbishment.

Boris Johnson is under investigation over the scandal, also known as ‘Wallpapergate’ after his private WhatsApp messages with Tory donor Lord Brownlow were revealed this week.

Johnson exchanged texts with the Conservative peer where he requests funds to redecorate his flat, while also promising to think about Brownlow’s proposed event called the “great exhibition”.

Brownlow then discussed the plans for a ‘Great Exhibition 2.0’ with then culture secretary Oliver Dowden a few weeks later.

None of this was mentioned to Johnson’s ethics adviser Lord Geidt who led the inquiry into the funding behind No.10′s refurbishment.

Speaking on Channel 4 News, Thornberry – the shadow attorney general – explained the importance of the text exchange and said: “At the same time as they’re discussing money, they’re discussing a pet project.

“Now, I’m sorry, but these two things go hand-in-hand.”

Presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy asked: “Are you saying you don’t believe Boris Johnson when he said he forgot this exchange because he didn’t have it in front of him?”

Thornberry replied: “I don’t believe him. I do not believe him. I do not believe that he is a truthful man. I don’t know if that’s newsworthy but I do not think that the prime minister is a truthful man.

“I don’t think that when he’s in a corner he’s going to tell us the truth.

“He may say that he humbly apologises but that’s not good enough is it?”

Johnson issued an apology to Geidt on Thursday for not revealing these texts with Brownlow at an earlier date, claiming there were “security issues” at the time which meant he did not have access to those messages.

Geidt said it was “plainly unsatisfactory” that he had not seen them, but accepted Johnson’s apology.

But Labour has now asked Commons Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone to investigate this potential “cash for access” scandal.

Thornberry also claimed she thought Geidt was “wrong when it comes to this government”.

She continued: “I think that he may be hoping, thinking, that when he’s told things, people are telling him the truth.

“And most of us would want to kind of proceed on that basis.

“But when you are dealing with this prime minister and this government, you should not assume that they are telling you the truth when they are in a corner.”

She added: “They will do anything they could to wriggle out of their responsibilities.”

Johnson originally claimed he was not aware Brownlow footed the bill because officials set up a blind trust during the initial inquiry into the refurbishment.

Geidt then concluded that the prime minister had acted unwisely, but not breached the ministerial code.

The Electoral Commission fined the Tories for failing to declare the payment and Johnson covered the costs himself – but these new texts have brought the whole issue up again.

Geidt still maintains that he still believes Johnson was not aware who paid for the flat refurb, but also wrote to the prime minster that, “I doubt whether I would have concluded without qualification” that Johnson acted appropriately if he had seen the WhatsApps during his inquiry.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “It appears that Lord Brownlow had access to the prime minister and culture secretary because he was paying for his luxury flat renovations.”

She, like Thornberry, said it is “pretty unbelievable” that Johnson was unawre who was paying for luxury flat refurb.

She claimed: “If so, that is corruption plain and simple. No one should be able to buy access or exchange wallpaper for festivals. Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.


Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting