Boris Johnson flat refurb: PM comes out swinging after legal probe into Downing Street renovation
RAGING Boris Johnson came out swinging yesterday after a legal probe was launched into his lavish Downing Street flat makeover.
The PM was seething as he faced a fiery Commons showdown over the “cash for curtains” scandal.
Mr Johnson is accused of taking a £58,000 Tory Party loan to pay for the swanky refurbishment and falling to declare it.
Yesterday the Electoral Commission said there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect a crime, and launched a formal investigation into the Tory Party.
It comes after a Tatler magazine profile of his fiancée Carrie Symonds, which suggested she was keen to overhaul the “John Lewis nightmare” they inherited from Theresa May.
Prime Ministers get £30,000 every year in expenses to maintain and kit out their Downing Street pad.
But Boris and Carrie are said to have spent an additional £58,000 on garish furniture and embossed wallpaper from trendy eco designer Lulu Lytle.
A single roll of the lurid wallpaper from the West London designer is said to cost a criminally expensive £800.
But the PM furiously denied he broke any rules in a fiery PMQs clash.
Visibly seething at Labour accusations that he is Cmired in sleaze”, Boris roared: “I have covered the costs.
“I have met the requirements I am obliged to meet in full.”
As his premiership was rocked by its biggest crisis so far, Boris tried to turn the tables by returning fire on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
He tore into his party for what he called bizarre and irrelevant attacks on the cost of his wallpaper.
Jabbing his finger in rage, he accused Labour of sniping from the sidelines while Britain is still in the grip of one of the biggest crises it has faced in a century.
He said: “What I believe has been strained to breaking point is the credulity of the public.
“You have half an hour every week to put serious and sensible questions to me about the state of the pandemic, the vaccine rollout . . . and you go on and on about wallpaper when I have told you umpteen times I paid for it.”
The PM refused three times to say who originally picked up the bill for the plush refurb before he finally coughed up — but insisted no rules have been broken.
The Conservative Party is said to have covered the bill — bankrolled by donor Lord Brownlow — before BoJo finally picked up the tab.
The PM’s press secretary said Mr Johnson would co-operate fully with the Electoral Commission investigation, but had not yet been asked to give evidence.
The row exploded just as No 10 announced they had appointed the Queen’s former private secretary, Lord Christopher Geidt, as his new anti-sleaze adviser.
Three separate probes have now been launched into the No 11 flat refurbishment.
These include one by the Electoral Commission, another by Lord Geidt and one by top civil servant Simon Case.
John Lewis poked fun at their unlikely role in the heart of a political scandal rocking Westminster.
In one post, they said: “Phew, the John Lewis social team have just finished an all-day brainstorming session to find ways for people to talk about us on Twitter . . . Have we missed anything?”
Another said: “Time for an interior refresh? We pride our Home Design Service on having something for almost everyone.”
But while the cheeky retailer saw the funny side of the scandal, Boris was scrambling to reassure jittery Tory MPs who fear the row will damage their chances of success at next week’s local elections.
The PM made a rare trip to Parliament’s tea room after PMQs to rally his troops.
There was growing anger among MPs who feel he has failed to get a grip on the row.
One minister called it a “needless own goal that” will “let Starmer bleat on for months”.
Meanwhile, it emerged that Chancellor Rishi Sunak redecorated his flat at No 10 out of his own purse.
It was not known how much he spent but the admission will be seen as a dig at his boss.
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