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Boris ducks questions over '£150,000 bulletproof treehouse he wanted for son Wilf'
25 June 2022, 17:28 | Updated: 25 June 2022, 17:30
Boris Johnson has refused to comment on a report that he wanted to build a £150,000 treehouse with bulletproof glass at Chequers for his son.
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The embattled Prime Minister tried to bat away questions over the project, which sources said he hoped would be paid for by Tory donor Lord Brownlow.
The treehouse – which No10 aides remarked would have cost more than an actual house in parts of the UK – was scrapped as an idea when Mr Johnson's security said it would be a risk given its visibility from the road.
Two days after a pair of abysmal by-election defeats, Mr Johnson, speaking on a visit to Rwanda, was asked if taxpayers' money had gone towards the project's planning.
"I'm not going to comment on non-existent objects or non existent jobs to do with my family," he said.
When it was put to him the story appeared to be true, he said: "I make no comment about that story, nor about your claim that it is true."
The Times reported that Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie wanted to build the expensive treehouse for their son Wilf in autumn 2020.
It would have been in the grounds of Chequers, the Buckinghamshire country retreat used by prime ministers.
But even the proposed addition of bulletproof glass to the treehouse – something that increased the cost "significantly" – did not allay fears that it would prove to be a security risk and the plan was dropped.
Aides were worried at the optics behind such an expensive project costing more than some real homes.
"He was told it would look terrible," a government source said.
Worries about whether a conflict of interest would arise from Mr Johnson accepting such a big donation were also brought up.
Lord Brownlow, who put £112,000 towards refurbishing the No11 flat where the PM and Mrs Johnson live, did not respond to The Times.
The Conservatives broke the law when the party failed to disclose part of the donation, the Electoral Commission later said, leading to a fine and Mr Johnson repaying the money.
A Government spokesman said: "We do not comment on private or family matters which do not involve any ministerial declarations or taxpayer funds."
Mr Johnson has vowed to plough on as Prime Minister despite pressure for him to quit.
He said people are "not hearing enough about the things that really matter to them".
"People were absolutely fed up hearing about things I stuffed up," he added.
By-elections on Thursday saw Mr Johnson's party lose the Tiverton and Honiton seat to the Liberal Democrats while Labour took Wakefield back.