LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally covered the cost of refurbishing his Downing Street flat, a minister said, seeking to quash claims by Johnson’s former top adviser that the prime minister had planned to get donors to pay for it secretly.
“What I know is the prime minister has personally met the costs of the flat refurbishment and that is what people in Britain want to know,” Liz Truss, Britain’s trade minister, told BBC television on Sunday.
Dominic Cummings, who was Johnson’s key adviser on the Brexit campaign and helped him to win an election in 2019 before a bust-up last year, said on Friday that Johnson wanted to donors to secretly pay for the renovation and he told the prime minister the plans were “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal”.
Johnson’s office has said the government had followed the rules over the refurbishment.
But the opposition Labour Party is calling for an investigation into how Johnson funded the refurbishment.
It also wants a broader independent commission to look into ethics and standards in government after a lobbying scandal involving former leader David Cameron who tried to get ministers to help the now failed finance firm Greensill Capital.
Truss declined to comment on Sunday when asked whether a donor initially paid for the refurbishment of the Downing Street apartment and Johnson then repaid the donor.
“What I agree with is that the prime minister has met the costs, that everything will be declared in line (with the rules) including for tax purposes,” she said.
British newspapers said on Sunday that Johnson’s current advisers were worried that Cummings would make further damaging allegations when he speaks to parliament next month about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
(Writing by William Schomberg; editing by David Evans)