Starmer leads Labour calls for inquiry into Downing Street flat refurb funding
Boris Johnson comments on Cummings leak rumour
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Mr Cummings, who left Mr Johnson’s staff abruptly late last year having been his most influential adviser on Brexit and the 2019 election campaign, claimed in a blog he had told the Prime Minister plans to have donors pay for the renovation were “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal.” The former top aide insisted he was not responsible for leaks over the cost of the refurbishment and over Mr Johnson’s private communications over the sourcing of COVID-19 ventilators.
Every day there’s more evidence of this sleaze and frankly it stinks
Sir Keir Starmer
He also said the Prime Minister and his office had fallen below acceptable standards of competence and integrity.
Mr Johnson’s office said the Government had followed the rules over the refurbishment and rejected claims the Prime Minister had interfered in a leak inquiry.
But Labour has demanded an inquiry into the allegations.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It matters because it’s about integrity and it’s about taxpayers’ money.
“You’ve got the former most senior adviser to the Prime Minister saying he’s fallen well below the standards of integrity that are needed for the office of the Prime Minister.
“Every day there’s more evidence of this sleaze and frankly it stinks.”
Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said: “We are calling for the Government to publish any correspondence relating to payments or donations around the refurbishment.
“We need to know the full amount that was spent and we need to know who paid for the work in the first place who the Prime Minister now proposes to reimburse.
“If people are making significant donations to the Conservative Party, to the Government, we need to know who they are so that we can make sure the Government isn’t doing favours for them in return.
“That is what sleaze is all about. That is the behaviour of a tin pot dictatorship. Britain, frankly, deserves a lot better than that.”
Labour has also called for an independent commission on ethics and standards in government to be set up.
Mr Cummings’s claims formed part of a wide-ranging attack on his former boss after No 10 sources briefed newspapers the former aide was the source of a number of damaging leaks – including text messages exchanged between the Prime Minister and the entrepreneur Sir James Dyson over tax matters.
It follows Mr Cummings’ dramatic departure last year from No 10 amid the fallout of a bitter internal power struggle with Ms Symonds.
In his blog post, Mr Cummings accused Mr Johnson of seeking to stop an inquiry into the leak of plans for a second coronavirus lockdown after he was warned it could implicate Henry Newman, a close friend of his fiancée.
He said: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”
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The Electoral Commission said that a month after it first revealed that it had contacted the Tory Party over a reported £58,000 donation in relation to the flat, those talks were still continuing.
A commission spokeswoman said: “Discussions with the Conservative Party continue as we work to establish whether any sums relating to the works at 11 Downing Street fall within the regime regulated by the commission, and therefore need to be reported and subsequently published.
“The party is working with us on this.”
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