Boris Johnson is a ‘vacuum of integrity’ says Lucas
The Electoral Commission has launched an investigation into how Prime Minister Boris Johnson funded refurbishments to his Downing Street flat The spending watchdog said there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”. The Prime Minister has been under growing pressure to declare how refurbishments were paid for after his former adviser, Dominic Cummings, said there was a plan for donors to “secretly pay”.
Mr Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds carried out renovations on their private residence, the flat above 11 Downing Street.
There has been speculation the bill was as much as £200,000, despite the Prime Minister only receiving an annual public grant of £30,000 to spend on the flat.
Mr Johnson told MPs he covered the revamp “personally” – but would not say who paid the initial bill.
While it is not against the rules to receive donations, politicians must declare them so the public can see who has given them money and whether it has had any influence on their decisions.
The Commission – which regulates party and election finance – has the power to investigate if such funding has been declared properly and can impose fines or pass on allegations to the police if they see fit.
Mr Johnson is not the only politician based in Westminster to have caused controversy over refurbishments, though.
John Bercow shamed after Speaker spent £31k of taxpayers’ cash on apartment renovation
Former Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister Dominic Cummings
A newly-resurfaced report reveals John Bercow, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, splashed £31,000 of taxpayers’ cash doing up his grace-and-favour Westminster apartment.
According to a 2011 Daily Star report, the Conservative MP admitted spending no more than £20,000 doing up the home after his appointment in 2010.
He claimed he had to refurbish the apartment to make it safer for his children, Jemima, Freddie and Oliver.
However, dozens of invoices released on the House of Commons website reportedly showed how the Speaker splurged £31,770 on everything from a £6,764 set of sofas to a new double bed from Ikea for the children’s nanny.
In addition, almost £4,000 was spent on designer planters on the terrace to “provide additional child safety”.
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Carrie Symonds and Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow
One Westminster source told the Daily Star: “If that place was any more child friendly, they would have had to call in Disney to do the decorating.
“Of course, an apartment owned by the state should be repaired by the state – but taxpayers should not have to pay for sheets for his children’s beds.
“Why doesn’t he buy his own sheets? Everyone else in the country does.”
According to the report, Mr Bercow “even had the nerve to charge £80 for a ‘large clock’ – despite living slap bang underneath Big Ben, the biggest clock in Britain”.
Under the House of Commons rules set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, MPs are banned from claiming furniture on their expenses.
However, a spokeswoman for the Speaker said his apartment was part of the parliamentary estate so the Commons pays for all fixtures and fittings.
It was not the first time that Mr Bercow was accused of being excessive, though.
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Big Ben is the striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster
The MP for Buckingham reportedly splashed out £37,000 of taxpayer money on his official coat of arms and a portrait.
According to a 2011 report by the Daily Telegraph, the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which highlights waste in pubic spending, criticised the cost of the painting and coat of arms.
Mathew Sinclair, the alliance’s director, told the publication: “It’s very excessive at this time of public sector austerity for the Speaker to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a vanity portrait of himself.
“Following the MPs’ expenses scandal, Parliament should be cutting costs, not throwing taxpayers’ money away boosting John Bercow’s ego.
“Michael Martin was thrown from the job for wasting taxpayers’ money, so the current Speaker should be much more careful with how he spends our hard earned cash.”