Johnson not sleazy, Cabinet ally says, as questions continue over PM’s flat

David Hughes and Patrick Daly, PA
·2-min read

A Cabinet minister has insisted Boris Johnson is not “sleazy” as questions continued about the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.

The Prime Minister is under pressure about the renovations after his former aide, Dominic Cummings, claimed Mr Johnson wanted donors to “secretly pay” for the refurbishment in a move which would have been “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal”.

Mr Johnson did not deny discussing using donors to fund the work, saying: “If there’s anything to be said about that, any declaration to be made, that will, of course, be made in due course.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Mr Johnson had paid “out of his own pocket” for the Downing Street upgrade.

Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Do I think the Prime Minister is sleazy? No, I don’t.

“Do I think the Prime Minister is an absolutely first-class leader who has led this country in a pandemic?

“Let’s not forget, while we are getting into Oscar-type gossip columns – there is an awful lot of gossip going around.

“He paid out of his own money to refurbish the flat. He paid for his flat.”

Ben Wallace
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Ian West/PA)

Labour has called for a full investigation by the Electoral Commission into the situation.

The commission, which first raised the issue with the Conservatives more than a month ago, confirmed at the weekend it was still looking into whether any of the sums relating to the work on the flat should have been declared.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It’s very important we have answers.”

“It’s all very well the Prime Minister saying, now, ‘well, I paid for it’,” he added.

“The critical question was what was the original arrangement and why is it so complicated?

“If there’s a straightforward answer, then give it.

“If there isn’t, then there are very serious questions to be asked.”

Last week, the Daily Mail published details of an email from Tory peer Lord Brownlow in which he said he was making a £58,000 donation to the party “to cover the payments the party has already made on behalf of the soon-to-be-formed ‘Downing Street Trust’”.

To date, no such trust has been formed.

Mr Wallace said: “The Prime Minister has complied at all stages with the rules and we’ve been very clear on that.

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