ir Keir Starmer has claimed that an investigation into the renovation of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street apartment could be “completed in five minutes” if it revealed “who paid for it in the first place”.
The watchdog said there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect an offense may have been committed, to which Downing Street said Mr Johnson would be ‘happy’ to assist the commission with its investigations to find out who originally paid for the work.
The Times reports, citing a government source, that Downing Street fears “there may be a paper trail” at the Conservatives’ campaign headquarters (CCHQ).
Election Commission investigators may demand documents and information, and could possibly request a statutory interview with the prime minister as part of the process.
Labor leader Sir Keir told ITV’s Peston: “He asked the Cabinet Secretary to investigate, asked the Election Commission to investigate.
“These investigations could be completed in five minutes if the Prime Minister just answered the question, who paid for it in the first place?”
Challenged by the Labor leader on the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said he had “personally” paid for the renovations, but declined to answer if he had received an initial loan from the Conservative Party.
Questions have grown about the apartment since former aide Dominic Cummings accused Mr Johnson of wanting donors to ‘secretly pay’ for renovations to the apartment as part of a ‘possibly illegal’ move .
The Election Commission said the investigation “will determine whether any transactions relating to ‘the renovations’ fall under the scheme regulated by the commission and whether such funding has been flagged as required.”
The Conservative Party has said it will “continue to work constructively” with the commission.
“We believe that all reportable donations were declared and published transparently and correctly by the Election Commission,” said a spokesperson.
Prime ministers are allocated a budget of up to £ 30,000 a year to renovate their Downing Street residence, but newspaper articles suggest Mr Johnson has spent up to £ 200,000.
Last week the Daily Mail published details of an email from Conservative peer Lord Brownlow in which he said he was donating £ 58,000 to the party “to cover payments the party has already made to the party. name of the future. formed “Downing Street Trust” ”.
Labor Baroness Jay told UKTN Newsnight on Wednesday that she was approached earlier this year by Lord Brownlow, who “asked me if I wanted to become a trustee of the Downing Street Trust”.
She said the proposed trust “would be for the public part of Downing Street and not for the residences,” although nothing formal was ever agreed.
Former Queen’s private secretary Lord Geidt was appointed as the new independent adviser on ministers’ interests on Wednesday and immediately launched his own investigation into the apartment.
The appointment of the new adviser paves the way for the publication of the latest register of ministerial interests, which could contain details of possible donations to finance the apartment.
However, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said Mr Johnson will remain the “ultimate arbiter” over whether the ministerial code has been broken, even if the investigation is focused on himself.