PM denies breaking laws over Downing Street flat refurb in angry Commons clash

28 April 2021, 13:26 | Updated: 29 April 2021, 08:39

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

A furious Boris Johnson has repeatedly denied breaking any laws over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat during a heated PMQs row with Sir Keir Starmer.

The Prime Minister was quizzed by the Labour leader just moments after the Electoral Commission announced it has launched a formal investigation.

The watchdog said there are "reasonable grounds" to suspect an offence may have occurred, dramatically deepening the Prime Minister's troubles over the renovations on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Electoral Commission announces formal investigation into Boris Johnson's flat refurb

READ MORE: Boris Johnson 'told aides he could not afford the revamp of his Downing Street flat'

Questions have been mounting since former aide Dominic Cummings accused Mr Johnson of wanting donors to "secretly pay" for the renovations to his No11 residence in a "possibly illegal" move.

Mr Johnson told Prime Minister's Questions he "personally" paid for the renovations, but refused to answer whether he received an initial loan from the Tory party.

The Prime Minister became increasingly angry during the confrontation with the Labour leader
The Prime Minister became increasingly angry during the confrontation with the Labour leader. Picture: PA Images

Sir Keir said to the PM: "Well, somebody here isn't telling the truth. The House will have heard the Prime Minister's answer and I remind him that the Ministerial Code says, and I quote, 'ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation'".

He asked: "Who initially, and Prime Minister, initially is the key word here, who initially paid for the redecoration of his Downing Street flat?"

Mr Johnson replied: "As for the latest stuff that he is bringing up, he should know that I have paid for Downing Street refurbishment personally."

READ MORE: PM 'said he would rather let Covid rip' than impose second lockdown, report claims

He said that upon "any further declaration that I have to make, if any" he will be advised by his newly-appointed independent adviser on ministers' interests, Lord Geidt.

Sir Keir asked the Prime Minister if he believes any "rules or laws have been broken" over the refurbishment of the flat.

"No, I don't," Mr Johnson replied during an angry exchange.

The PM also denied reports which claim he said he would rather see "bodies pile high" than announce a third national coronavirus lockdown.

Sir Keir asked him: "Can the Prime Minister tell the House categorically yes or no, did he make those remarks or remarks to that effect?"

"No," he replied, "And (Sir Keir) is a lawyer, I am given to understand, and I think if he is going to repeat allegations like that he should come to this House and substantiate those allegations, and say where he heard them and who exactly is supposed to have said those things."

He described lockdowns as "appalling things to have to do" but said "we had absolutely no choice" except to implement it.