Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the funding of the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s flat in 11 Downing Street.
I agree with you that the Prime Minister should be transparent and accountable. The Ministerial Code makes clear real and perceived conflicts of interest must be avoided and all external financial aid to Ministers fully disclosed. In addition, all MPs, including the Prime Minister, are required to follow a Code of Conduct. This specifies that donations and loans over £500 must be declared to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards within 28 days of receipt.
The Prime Minister has said that he has “covered the costs” of the refurbishment and that he has “met the requirements that I have been obliged to meet in full”. However, who originally paid for the work, reported to have cost as much as £200,000, is still unknown. This raises serious questions, which the Government has repeatedly refused to answer. The Ministerial Code states that “Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament and the public”. Therefore, the Government should disclose who first paid for the renovations. It should also respond to Dominic Cummings’s claims that a proposal made by the Prime Minister for meeting the costs was “unethically and possibly illegal”.
I note the Electoral Commission has said there are “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred” and that it is investigating “whether any transactions relating to the works at 11 Downing Street” have fallen foul of legal donation reporting requirements. Given the gravity of the accusations from Mr Cummings, the Prime Minister’s former Chief Adviser, and the Government’s refusal to answer questions from MPs and others, I welcome this investigation.