Boris Johnson Does Not Think People ‘Deserve Truth’ Over Flat Refurb, Says Labour’s Lisa Nandy

Dan KitwoodPA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson answers questions from the media

Boris Johnson is “withholding information” over the revamp of his Downing Street flat and believes “rules don’t apply to him”, says Labour’s Lisa Nandy. 

The shadow foreign secretary hit out at the prime minister’s “arrogance” on Sunday, claiming he does not believe the public “deserve truth” over the expensive renovation of his official residence at Number 11. 

Johnson has insisted he “met the cost” personally but has pointedly refused to answer questions on whether a Tory donor initially loaned him £58,000 – something which, if true, the PM should have openly declared.

Nandy’s punchy attack came as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross broke ranks and said Johnson should resign if he is found to have broken the ministerial code. 

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Nandy said the public needed to know who Johnson may feel he owed as a result of any loan. 

“There’s an arrogance at the heart of this that he seems to believe that we don’t deserve to know the truth about what goes on in government,” she said. 

“We need to know who the prime minister is beholden to, we need to know what he has promised in return.

“If the prime minister is beholden to other people, who is he not serving? That’s the people of this country.

“This is about integrity, it’s about trust, and it’s about whether there’s one rule for them and one rule for everyone else.”

The Electoral Commission, meanwhile, has launched an investigation into whether the PM broke electoral law.

Downing Street underlined last week , however, that Johnson remained the he “ultimate arbitrator” of the ministerial code and therefore had the final say on whether he broke the rules. 

Nandy added it was clear Johnson was “withholding information” from the public.

“It’s appalling we are in a position where he won’t come clean about who loaned him money or gave him money, and what favours or promises may have been given in return,” she said. 

“We already know that this is a prime minister who frankly thinks that the rules don’t apply to him and his friends. He is quite happy for his cabinet ministers to break the ministerial code and then not resign, he is quite happy for his advisers to drive around the country with Covid in the middle of lockdown and not resign.

“I think people are angry, actually, that in a year when we have all followed the rules, often at great personal cost, we have followed the rules because we know that the rules matter, and yet over and over again we have seen a prime minister who seems to think that the rules don’t apply to him.”

Claims also emerged on Sunday that Johnson sought help from Tory donors for childcare. 

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said he has “no idea” if this were true but  dismissed the allegation as “tittle tattle”.

“I have no idea, you don’t have conversations like that with the PM,” he said. “I can’t comment on every little bit of gossip that’s in the newspapers.

“The last thing you asked me about, I think, is an example of tittle tattle.”

Asked if there was a second invoice for refurbishments of the prime minister’s Downing Street flat settled directly with a supplier, he said: “As the prime minister has set out this week, he covered the cost himself, he’s followed all the relevant codes of conduct at all relevant times, he took official advice all along the way.

“There are three reviews now, I think, into this and I think the right thing for me to do is not add political commentary that could otherwise prejudice those reviews, but to respect the integrity of them, so I’m not going to offer you, I’m afraid, any more commentary, or if you like chatter, on the various different reports and speculation that I see in the Sunday papers.”

A No 10 spokeswoman said the prime minister “has covered the cost of all childcare”, but did not respond when asked if he paid for the original bill himself or had reimbursed somebody else.

As well as pressure over the renovations, Johnson has been forced to deny saying he would rather see “bodies pile high” than impose a third coronavirus lockdown, on top of a lobbying row and allegations of cronyism.

Although earlier polls suggested the “sleaze” allegations were not significantly denting public support for the Tories, two fresh surveys gave evidence to the contrary ahead of the local elections in England and votes for the parliaments in Scotland and Wales.

The Conservatives fell to a five-point lead over Labour, with 42% compared to 37%, according to the Opinium poll of more than 2,000 adults between Wednesday and Friday.

That put the Tories down two points and Labour up four compared to a week earlier, halving the Conservatives’ lead ahead of the elections, in which some 48 million people are eligible to vote.

And in separate polling, Focaldata put Labour on 39%, one point behind the Tories, who previously had a healthy lead, according to The Sunday Times.

Johnson has denied breaking any laws over the refurbishment of his residence and insisted he had paid “personally” for the works.


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