Saturday, May 15

Watchdog Asks Conservatives About Boris Johnson’s £ 200,000 Flat Redesign | Conservatives


The election watchdog has asked the Conservative party to explain how Boris Johnson found £ 60,000 to pay for the remodel of his Downing Street flat.

The Electoral Commission said that it had contacted the party “to establish whether any amount related to the renovation works falls within the regime regulated by the commission.”

The investigations are likely to lead to increased tension between the watchdog and some conservatives. Last year, the party’s co-chair, Amanda Milling, condemned the commission for “simply not being fit for purpose” and the party called for the watchdog to be abolished unless it was stripped of many of its powers.

Labor said the prime minister should say whether any “special favors” are owed to the donors who allegedly funded the extensive redecoration he and his fiancee Carrie Symonds made of the apartment they share at 11 Downing Street.

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that last summer the Conservative Party made a “secret” payment of £ 60,000 for part of the job. This was reimbursed by Lord Brownlow, the newspaper reported, but the donation was not reported to the Election Commission or the House of Commons interest register.

Lord Brownlow is an entrepreneur and former Conservative Vice President who became a Life Partner in 2019 by Theresa May.

Symonds’ £ 200,000 interior redesign is not covered by the £ 30,000 annual allowance the prime minister receives for his accommodation, and Downing Street has been trying to set up a charity to pay for it.

Allegra Stratton, the prime minister’s press secretary, said earlier this month that “every twist and turn” of the remodel would be recorded, but added: “Conservative party funds are not being used to pay for any remodeling of the property. Downing Street “.

The Electoral Commission tried to downplay its inquiries, saying that it spoke regularly with all political parties about financing, adding: “We are in contact with the party to establish whether any amount related to the renovation works falls within the regime regulated by the Commission. . “

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “All notifiable donations to the Conservative Party are correctly reported to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and fully compliant with the law. Gifts and benefits received as ministries are declared, and will continue to be, declared in government transparency statements.

All major political parties have been fined by the Electoral Commission in recent years, but it has come under fire from many MPs and pro-Brexit activists.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, said the commission was not trusted to be impartial. Meanwhile, the committee on standards in public life, an independent body that reports to the prime minister, announced last summer that it would be conducting a review of electoral regulation, including the jurisdiction of the Electoral Commission.

The Conservative Party presented a lengthy criticism of the commission to the revision of the CSPL, including a call for the commission’s powers to be turned over to Companies House. Others who called for abolition included Jon Moynihan, who donated £ 100,000 to Johnson’s leadership campaign.

That was followed in October by news that the commission’s chairman, Sir John Holmes, a career diplomat, had been ousted from his post last year.

The Labor Party has said that the Conservatives’ call to abolish the Election Commission is a “damaging and worrying step for the integrity of our democracy.”


www.theguardian.com

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