It just keeps getting worse.
There has been upset over the funding for Boris Johnson’s refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.
Not only did they offend the nation by criticising John Lewis, but it’s now being claimed that Boris Johnson and fiancee Carrie Symonds spent as much as £200,000 on refurbishing the four-bedroom home.
It’s been pointed out on Twitter, that £200,000 is also the figure that was quoted for fitting a sprinkler system into the doomed Grenfell Tower. The figure of £200,000 was assessed by the Fire Sector Federation (FSF). The blaze happened in 2017, and 72 people died.
There is an ongoing battle to replace dangerous cladding on many properties.
Ms Symonds called the home a “John Lewis furniture nightmare” in an interview with Tatler.
However, some of their associates are defending their decision for such a grand makeover.
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.”
The makeover is said to have included: £840-a-roll wallpaper, a £9,800 Baby Bear sofa and a £3,000 Lily Drum table.
Above all, people want answers about where the money came from.
The funding for the renovation is now under formal investigation. The government watchdog found “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.
All prime ministers since Tony Blair have lived in the more spacious flat above No 11, although their office is at No 10.
There is an annual allowance of up to £30,000 of taxpayer’s money to contribute to costs of maintaining and furnishing the four-bedroom flat.
Johnson has denied any wrongdoing.
Moreover, he has called the criticism a “farrago of nonsense”.
Despite Carrie’s comments, he also insists he is a fan of John Lewis: “The one thing I object to in this whole farrago of nonsense is I love John Lewis. But what I will say is what people want this government to do is focus on their priorities.”
Speaking to reporters on Thursday about the allegations, Johnson said there was not “anything to see here”.
“We will comply with whatever they want and I don’t think there is anything to see here or to worry about,” Johnson said.
Next, he continued: “But what we are doing is focusing on the stuff that really matters.”
He was asked whether he has confidence in the Electoral Commission. The Prime Minister said: “Of course. With great respect, I don’t think that this is the number one issue … by several orders of magnitude.”
Meanwhile, there has been further criticism after it was revealed that only the findings of the investigation will be released, not the full information.
Labour’s Rachel Reeves is the shadow Cabinet Office minister. Many of her party are unhappy because of the decision not to publish.
She says this isn’t good enough. Labour is calling for Lord Geidt to be given independent powers to launch investigations and recommend sanctions. However, that power still lies with Johnson as it stands, therefore making it as if he’s investigating himself.
“This is exactly why the independent adviser for ministers’ interests needs to have the power to trigger and publish investigations into breaches of the ministerial code,” Reeves said.
She added: “The prime minister must publish the Geidt report into the Downing Street refurbishment in full, otherwise he is once again marking his own homework, and seriously driving down standards and accountability.”
Sky News looked at how much the previous prime ministers spent:
Firstly, look at the Tony Blair refurb, 1997-2007
Total spend: £285,380 (£410,807 today)
Average annual spend: £28,538 (£41,080 today)
Highest annual spend: 2000-01 – £48,336 (£73,040)
But it’s worth noting Blair had the longest time spent living there.
Next was Gordon Brown, 2007-2010
Total spend: £84,622 (£103,284 today)
Annual average: £28,207 (£34,428 today)
Highest annual spend: 2009-10 – £29,389 (£35,181 today)
An expensive stay for David Cameron 2010-2016
Total spend: £92,931 (£105,293 today)
Annual average: £15,488.5 (£17,548.83 today)
Highest annual spend: 2010-11 – £30,000 (£35,267 today)
Sky revealed they spent more than the annual allowance of £30,000 when they moved in, but paid the extra with their own cash.
Finally, Theresa May, 2016-19
Total spend: £25,534 (£26,917 today)
Annual average spend: £8,511 (£8,972 today)
Highest annual spend: 2016-17 £19,400 (£20,647 today)
Theresa May spent the least, and the total for three years was less than one year’s allowance.
However, in their second year, the Mays spent nothing.
So are you surprised by the costs, or is it OK?
Images via Alamy