A Cabinet minister has denied that Boris Johnson is “sleazy”, following allegations the prime minister asked Conservative donors to secretly pay for Downing Street refurbishments.
Labour is expected to pile further pressure on the government over claims made by Johnson’s former aide, Dominic Cummings, that the PM wanted donors to “secretly pay for the renovation” of his official flat, in a move called “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” by the ex-Vote Leave campaigner.
Asked about the allegations, defence secretary Ben Wallace said Johnson had paid “out of his own pocket” for the Downing Street upgrade.
Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Do I think the Prime Minister is sleazy? No, I don’t.
The Opposition will ask commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle to grant an urgent question requiring a minister to come to the House to respond to the charge that Johnson plotted for Tory donors to put up the money for the work.
But during a round of broadcast interviews Wallace repeatedly refused to say whether the bill was initially settled by the Tory Party, or one of its donors, in which case it should have been declared as a loan under party funding rules.
Labour’s Kate Green said there were “very troubling allegations” surrounding the work at the Number 11 flat, as her party called for the Electoral Commission, which has been looking into the matter, to start a full inquiry into how the changes were funded.
The shadow education secretary told the Today programme: “I’m glad they (the Electoral Commission) are looking into it because clearly these are very troubling allegations and they go to the heart of ethics and integrity in our Government, and transparency”.
In an apparent reference to the briefings battle with former de facto chief of staff Cummings, Green said the government had been “fighting like rats in a sack”.
The Electoral 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.
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.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?