UK: Boris Johnson paid for London flat renovation, minister insists

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson feeds a lamb at Moor Farm in Stoney Middleton England

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson feeds a lamb at Moor Farm in Stoney Middleton England

He is appearing before the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

A senior Cabinet minister dismissed Dominic Cummings' claims about who paid for a six-figure renovation of the Prime Minister's flat as "tittle-tattle" today.

Labour called for a full investigation.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced questions on Saturday over the costly refurbishment of his apartment on London's Downing Street following a series of incendiary allegations made by his former top adviser.

It follows Mr Cummings' dramatic departure a year ago from No 10 amid the fallout of a bitter internal power struggle with Ms Symonds. An investigation was launched after briefings to the press led Mr Johnson to announce England's lockdown earlier than planned.

He also claimed that the United Kingdom leader suggested blocking an internal inquiry into government leaks, because the culprit identified was a close friend of Johnson's fiancée, Carrie Symonds.

The former adviser also claimed Mr Johnson had considered stopping the inquiry.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said there was a "real stench" around the Government and called on Mr Johnson to go to Parliament on Monday to explain what happened.

Cummings, who stepped down as top adviser in December, used a personal blog Friday to allege that Johnson tried to solicit potentially illegal donations to renovate his publicly-funded Downing Street flat.

Labour Party demands probe into PM's flat refurbishment

Mr Cummings claimed that, in a conversation he had with the PM afterwards, Boris Johnson said: "If Newman is confirmed as the leaker then I will have to fire him, and this will cause me very serious problems with Carrie [Symonds - the PM's fiancee] as they're best friends..."

Cummings claims he was not the one at fault for leaking the price of Johnson's refurbishment or the Prime Minister's private communications regarding COVID-19 ventilators.

Cummings was responding to newspaper headlines reporting Downing Street staff blamed the ex-aide for leaking embarrassing text messages, including some that have embroiled billionaire inventor James Dyson in the growing Westminster lobbying scandal.

"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", UK Trade Minister Liz Truss told the BBC.

In his bombshell attack on the Government on Friday, Mr Cummings claimed: 'The PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and nearly certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended.

Following months of controversy about the issue, a government minister said in a written parliamentary answer Friday that Johnson had met the costs "out of his own pocket", but it is unclear if he repaid a donor.

Mr Johnson lives in the flat above 11 Downing Street with Ms Symonds - a move echoing a number of his predecessors as it is bigger than the accommodation above No 10.

"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.

The Electoral Commission continues to quiz Conservative chiefs over the flat refit row, which has been dubbed "Wallpaper-gate", involving cash from donors and Conservative Party coffers.

New Zealand says 'uncomfortable' with expanding Five Eyes
The Times has reported that New Zealand has reversed an agreement to expand the network's intelligence-sharing network. Nanaia Mahuta says New Zealand is signalling to China its relationship is "respectful, predictable and consistent".

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