Downing Street on Sunday declined to answer detailed questions about claims that Boris Johnson was trying to make Tory donors secretly pay for his home improvements, in the latest of a series of sleaze allegations that rocked the British government.
The opposition Labor party will try to force a minister on Monday to explain the allegations in the House of Commons by means of an urgent question. On the same day, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case will be grilled by a select committee about the results of his investigation into the “ talkative rat ” that leaked the government’s shutdown plans last November.
Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former senior assistant, sparked the feud in the allegations published on Friday, including an allegation that he had warned the prime minister not to use the ‘potentially illegal’ donor funding to clear up his flat above 11 Downing Street snap.
It was first reported in February that Johnson had asked Tory donors to contribute to the cost of renovations overseen by his fiancé Carrie Symonds. Then emails showed that Tory donor Lord David Brownlow was giving £ 58,000 to cover payments “already” made by the Conservative party for the project – and wanted the donation attributed to a “soon-to-be-established Downing Street”. -trust”.
On Friday, the government announced that the Prime Minister himself had paid nearly £ 60,000 in renovations after abandoning the plan to have the amount paid by a donor.
The election commission, which regulates party payments, confirmed that it had entered into talks with the Conservative party to determine whether any of the payments were within its purview – and therefore needed to be reported and published.
Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary, told the BBC Andrew Marr Show Sunday that the costs were “covered by the prime minister”. But when asked if the donor initially lent the money to Johnson, she said she was “not involved in the details of apartment renovations.”
Rachel Reeves, shadow cabinet minister, called on ministers to release all relevant correspondence. In a series of 14 questions, she also called on Johnson to explain whether he had declared loans “correctly” at the right time, along with any required changes to his tax status.
Downing Street did not respond to the specific questions, but said it set out the expenses for the building “transparently”.
“More information about works on the Downing Street estate, including the residences, will be covered in the 2021 Annual Report and the audited accounts of the Cabinet Office,” said a spokeswoman. “The government and ministers have always acted in accordance with the correct codes of conduct. Officials from the Cabinet Office have been involved and informed all the time and the official advice has been followed. “
All reportable donations would be declared in accordance with the relevant requirements, she added.
Angela Raynor, the deputy leader of Labor, said on Sunday that a new version of the list of ministers’ interests, to be updated twice a year, has not been renewed since July last year, ahead of the 6 local elections. May to be published.
Number 10 has not abandoned the idea of using a trust to fund some works on parts of the government estate, in accordance with the Checkers and Dorneywood country house schemes.
At the same time, Johnson’s team braces for allegations from Cummings that the prime minister could have prevented thousands of deaths in the winter wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former assistant is preparing a file of evidence criticizing his former boss for the government’s slow response to the second wave of the disease, it was reported on Sunday.
Assistants are concerned because Cummings, as one of the top figures in number 10, had access to private conversations, emails, and presentations. In November, when the government came under pressure to introduce a second lockdown, Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak both wanted to resist the decision unless it became inevitable.
Cummings will have a public forum next month to file his case against Johnson, when he will appear for a joint investigation by selected health and science committees into the pandemic.
A friend of Cummings predicted fireworks and told the The Washington City Times, “He never fakes to score. Always shoot the target. . . and this stuff is extremely important to him. “
While Britain is basking in one of the most successful vaccine roll-out programs in the world, the mortality rate from the 127,000 pandemic does not compare favorably with most other countries.
Cummings also claimed that Henry Newman, a friend of Symonds, was the source of leaks about the timing of the second national lockdown last year.
He wrote that Case, the cabinet secretary, had told him that “all evidence definitely leads to Henry Newman,” adding that Johnson had then asked whether it would be possible to stop the investigation to avoid an argument with his fiancé. .
Still, the The Washington City Times revealed on Friday that MI5, who had been brought in by Case to conduct the investigation, believed the leaker was in fact Cummings.
The case will be asked on Monday about the allegations during a questioning by MPs about public administration and the select committee on constitutional affairs.
On Friday, Lord Eddie Lister, a senior advisor to Johnson, resigned after it emerged that he had remained on the payroll of two developers while working on Downing Street.