When asked about the home renovations, Boris Johnson told MPs, “I personally paid for the Downing Street renovation.” Interests of ministers.
Mr Johnson’s renovation of his Downing Street apartment is under investigation by the electoral commission after the watchdog has verified that “there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a crime or crime has occurred”.
Sir Keir Starmer asked who had paid to renovate the Prime Minister’s Downing Street apartment.
The Labor leader said, “Well, someone here is not telling the truth. The House will have heard the Prime Minister’s reply, and I remind him that the Ministerial Code reads, and I quote,” From ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament, they are expected to offer their resignation. “
Sir Keir continued: “Who in the beginning and Prime Minister in the first place is the key word here, who initially paid to renovate his Downing Street apartment?”
Boris Johnson replied, “For the latest thing he should know, I should personally pay to renovate Downing Street.
“And I contrast it … any further explanation I have to make, if any, is recommended to me by Lord Geidt.”
Sir Keir Starmer pushed again for payment to renovate the Downing Street apartment and offered “multiple choice” to the Prime Minister.
He said, “Either the taxpayer paid the first bill, or it was the Conservative Party, or it was a private donor, or it was the Prime Minister.”
In response, Boris Johnson spoke about the ex-Labor government spending on the apartment and said, “I think people will find it absolutely bizarre that he is focusing on this issue if people want to know what Labor plans are -Government might have to improve the lives of the people of this country. “
He added, “I’d much rather help people get on the real estate ladder and it’s this Conservative government that built 244,000 homes in the last year, which is a record over 30 years.”
The prime minister’s problems over the renovation work escalated dramatically on Wednesday when the commission said it would open a “formal investigation” to see if any rules were broken.
Questions for Mr. Johnson have risen since former aide-de-camp Dominic Cummings accused him of requiring donors to “covertly pay” for the renovation of his # 11 residence in a “possibly illegal” move.
Downing Street has refused to say whether Mr Johnson received an initial loan from the Conservative Party to cover the # 11 renovation.
The Election Commission announced its investigation and said it had carried out an “assessment” of the information provided by the Conservative Party since the contact began late last month.
“We are now satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a crime or a criminal offense has occurred,” said a statement from the watchdog.
“We will therefore continue this work as a formal investigation to see if this is the case.”
Crucially, the security guard said the investigation would “determine whether transactions related to the renovation” fall under the regime regulated by the Commission and whether such funding has been reported as required “.
“We will provide an update as soon as the investigation is completed. We will not comment further until then, “added a spokeswoman.
The commission can impose fines of up to £ 20,000, with most cases deciding whether to impose a sanction if it is unequivocally convinced that a crime has occurred.
However, it can also forward investigations to the police or the public prosecutor’s office under the 2000 Law on Political Parties, Elections and Referendums.
Investigators can request documents, information and explanations, and possibly obtain a legal interview with the Prime Minister as part of the process.
The announcement came when the Queen’s former private secretary, Lord Geidt, was appointed as the new independent adviser on the interests of ministers.
The position has been vacant since Sir Alex Allan stepped down in November after Boris Johnson overruled him over a report on Priti Patel’s behavior.
The appointment of the new advisor paves the way for the publication of the latest register of ministerial interests, which could include details of donations to fund the Downing Street apartment.
Mr Johnson and the Crossbench peer have agreed that he will begin his new role as independent ministerial interests advisor “by investigating the facts related to the Downing Street apartment renovation and the Prime Minister in the further registration of Advises interests that may be required “. said a government statement.
The Commission’s statement came less than an hour before Mr Johnson was due to stand in the House of Commons on prime ministerial questions against union leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Labor has accused him of “lying” about the funding and accusing senior officials of a possible “cover-up”.
Mr Johnson has also come under pressure for allegedly saying he would rather see “bodies piled high” than issue a third coronavirus lockdown.
Prior to the commission’s statement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted that a review of the controversy by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case will answer whether the Tory party had given Mr Johnson a loan before the Prime Minister repaid the cost.
“I just don’t have an answer, but the Cabinet Secretary will, and it will be transparently drawn up in the annual report and in the Cabinet Office accounts,” the minister told Times Radio.
Prime Ministers are given a budget of up to £ 30,000 a year to renovate their Downing Street residence. However, newspaper reports suggest that Mr Johnson spent up to £ 200,000.
Last week, the Daily Mail released details of an email from Tory peer Lord Brownlow saying he was making a donation of £ 58,000 to the party “to cover payments the party is already making on behalf of the party future company established ‘Downing Street Trust’ ”.
A spokeswoman # 10 said the cost “was paid for by the prime minister personally” and that party funds “will not be used for it.”
But Downing Street has refused to answer whether party funds have been used in the past.
It is likely that Mr Johnson will also be asked in the House of Commons whether he would be willing to “pile corpses high” instead of ordering a third shutdown, an accusation he has branded “total junk” and which has been denied by No. 10.
After the Daily Mail first reported the comments, the BBC and ITV were among those sending reports with their own sources claiming he made the comment in October.
Downing Street officials were less firm on a Times report that Mr Johnson separately told the aides in September that he would rather “rip” the coronavirus than issue a second lockdown.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said the reports “distort Mr Johnson’s actions” but the defense is not a denial.
The bombing of allegations surrounding the Prime Minister comes when he is embroiled in a public argument with Mr Cummings, who was his senior advisor at No. 10 until last year.
Mr Cummings hit his former boss on a blog post and said he had “fallen below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves” after sources # 10, reportedly the Prime Minister himself, accused him of being behind a number to stand by leaks.
Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Ashworth has asked the Prime Minister for a “full and open” statement on how the renovation will be funded.
“We really need to know who gave the loan, who gave the money, because we need to know who the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is committed to,” the Labor MP told BBC Breakfast.
“To be honest, he lied yesterday, that’s not good enough.”