It’s been dubbed “Wallpaper Wars”.
Boris Johnson is facing questions over how renovations to his Downing Street flat were paid for.
His former adviser Dominic Cummings has published an explosive blog post, claiming the Prime Minister may have used Tory donor money to pay for the refurbishments.
Mr Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds live in the flat above 11 Downing Street – technically the Chancellor’s official residence.
However, it is common for prime ministers to live there, since the four-bedroom flat is much larger than the one at No 10.
What renovations did Boris Johnson make?Ms Symonds called the flat, which was previously lived in by Theresa May, a “John Lewis furniture nightmare” in an interview with Tatler.
A friend of hers told The Daily Mail: “The makeover is appropriate for a building of such huge importance. Carrie has exquisite taste.
“It is classic, stunning, stylish and chic. She should be congratulated not criticised.”
Ms Symonds hired well-known interior designer Lulu Lytle, the co-founder and director of Soane Britain who has a number of A-list clients.
She likes to combine traditional British elegance with bold patterns and styles, and is a particular champion of rattan furniture, gold wallpaper and marble bathrooms.
Reports suggest the Downing Street flat’s new look includes Persian rugs, cream walls with gold hangings and gold chandeliers.
Before the recent upgrades, the flat was believed to be relatively unchanged since David and Samantha Cameron lived there, with Theresa May only adding a few pieces of furniture, including a John Lewis lamp and a Habitat coffee table.
The Camerons had the flat painted white, and opted for a largely minimalist style – a far cry from Ms Symonds’ tastes.
How much did the refurbishment cost?Prime ministers receive an annual allowance of up to £30,000 a year to put towards maintaining their home, but there has been speculation the recent work cost up to £200,000.
Who paid for it?Details of how the £30,000 allowance was spent this year are not yet public.
However, Cabinet Office Minister Lord True said on Friday: “Any costs of wider refurbishment in this year have been met by the Prime Minister personally.”
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss backed this up, saying Mr Johnson paid for the renovations “from his own pocket”.
There have been reports, however, that the Prime Minister may have initially received the money from a Tory donor, or through a charitable trust, before paying it back.
The Electoral Commission has launched a formal investigation into the matter, announcing it is “satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.
All donations of £7,500 or more must be reported to the commission.
A No 10 spokesperson said: “At all times, the Government and ministers have acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law.
“Cabinet Office officials have been engaged and informed throughout and official advice has been followed.
“Gifts and benefits received in a ministerial capacity are, and will continue to be, declared in transparency returns.”
PMQs rowLabour is calling on Mr Johnson to detail exactly how much was spent of the flat, and wants a full inquiry into the renovations.
Sir Keir Starmer said: “It matters. It is about integrity, it is about taxpayers’ money. Every day there is more evidence of this sleaze. Frankly, it stinks.
“If there is nothing to see here, whether it is the refurb of No 10, whether it is the dodgy contracts, whether it is the privileged access, if there is nothing to see, publish everything, have a full inquiry.
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
He and the Prime Minister clashed at PMQs on Wednesday, with Sir Keir accusing the Government of being “mired in sleaze, cronyism and scandal”.
Mr Johnson refused three times to answer the question of whether Tory finds were initially used to pay for the refurbishment.
“The answer is I have covered the costs… I conformed in full with the code of conduct and officials have kept advising me through this whole thing,” he said.
The prime minister can draw a line under the scandal of the redecoration of his flat but only if he comes clean quickly over the trail of money
Symonds really is ugly and always look like she has her mouth full. They should avoir putting mirrors in the flat but put spittoons everywhere, maybe it would help her. I think she controls him by threatening to bite him in his sleep.