© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: UK Prime Minister Johnson and Treasury Secretary Sunak visit the school in London
By Guy Faulconbridge
LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced further allegations on Sunday for home renovations and childcare for his young son, which his foreign secretary dismissed as unfounded gossip.
Johnson has repeatedly weathered gaffes, Brexit crises, and exposures of his adultery, but the revelation he and his fiancée Carrie Symonds lavishly spent redecorating their residence with a kings-acclaimed designer struck a nerve.
Johnson, a leader of the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, has faced a number of allegations affecting both his spending and the management of his core team at the center of the UK government. Opponents say he is unsuitable for office.
Johnson has repeatedly said that he paid to renovate his Downing Street apartment, but the Electoral Commission says there is reason to believe that a crime was committed in funding the work.
The Sunday Times said the total cost of the work was approximately £ 200,000 (US $ 276,000) and that a bill was paid direct by a Conservative Party donor – a benefit in kind that would need to be reported to tax authorities.
The newspaper also reported that a Conservative Party donor had been asked to pay a nanny for Johnson’s young son, Wilfred.
“I don’t mind paying for leaflets, but I refuse to be asked to pay to literally wipe the prime minister’s baby floor,” the unidentified donor was quoted as saying.
Johnson’s Downing Street office did not address the reported renovation costs, but instead said in a statement, “The Prime Minister has paid for all childcare costs.”
The Conservative Party declined to comment on the report.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab declined to reply directly to who originally paid for the work, saying he had “no idea” whether a donor had been asked to pay for Johnson’s childcare.
“The last issue you asked about is an example of little things,” Raab told Sky TV. He said Johnson was “crystal clear” about spending on renovating the apartment.
Ahead of Thursday’s local elections in most of the UK, some opinion polls show Johnson’s ratings have fallen. His party is also facing a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool, northern England, which the opposition Labor Party has controlled for decades.
The cost of renovating Downing Street is so great that Johnson last week even expressed his “love” for John Lewis, a retailer loved by millions of British voters.
Tatler magazine quoted an unknown source as saying that the work had improved the apartment after the “John Lewis Furniture Nightmare” inherited from former Prime Minister Theresa May.
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