Boris Johnson 'will be CLEARED of breaking the ministerial code'

Boris Johnson ‘will be CLEARED of breaking the ministerial code by taking £58,000 loan to redecorate his flat – but Lord Geidt’s inquiry will criticise PM’s ‘deeply unsatisfactory’ behaviour’

  • Conservative Party failed to register donation from Lord Brownlow last year 
  • Donation funded renovation of private quarters in No 11 used by Boris Johnson
  • He was cleared of breaking ministerial code in relation to donation in May 
  • PM will again be cleared of ministerial code breach, but criticised for behaviour 

Boris Johnson will be cleared of breaking the ministerial code by taking a £58,000 loan to redecorate his Downing Street flat, it has been claimed. 

The Prime Minister had been facing claims that he misled his own sleaze watchdog about his knowledge of the lavish revamp of his apartment over No 11.

He had assured Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministerial interests, that he did not know who was paying for the £112,549 refurbishment until this year.

But a separate probe by the Electoral Commission uncovered evidence that the PM had sent WhatsApp messages asking Tory donor Lord Brownlow for money several months earlier. 

In the light of the revelations, Lord Geidt has in recent weeks written to Mr Johnson asking him to explain the apparent contradiction.

However, the Prime Minister will not face the damaging outcome of having broken the ministerial code, the Financial Times reported. 

His behaviour is set to be criticised, with Lord Geidt, a former royal aide, reportedly describing the situation as ‘deeply unsatisfactory’.   

The donation paid for lavish renovation of private quarters in No 11 used by Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie (both pictured)

The Prime Minister’s standards adviser, Lord Geidt (pictured), will clear Mr Johnson of breaking the ministerial code, but he will criticise his ‘deeply unsatisfactory behaviour’

What work was done?

interior designer Lulu Lytle transformed the living quarters from what the PM’s wife Carrie reportedly felt was a ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ left behind by Theresa May.

Who paid for it?

Initially the Cabinet Office settled the bill. But because it was significantly above the £30,000 annual public grant for work to the flat, officials set up a charitable trust for donations to cover the costs. 

The Tory party repaid the Cabinet Office, then Tory donor and trust chairman Lord Brownlow and his firm made a donation to the party as well as paying some money directly to the supplier. Eventually the PM paid the designer personally.

Did this break any rules?

The Electoral Commission has found that the Conservative Party broke the law by failing to declare most of the money it received from Lord Brownlow as a donation.

What about the PM’s role?

He had been cleared by sleaze watchdog Lord Geidt of breaching the ministerial code on the basis that he claimed he knew nothing about the complex funding arrangements until February. 

This has been called into question as the Electoral Commission has found evidence that Mr Johnson messaged Lord Brownlow asking for money the previous November. 

It is understood that Lord Geidt’s latest probe has included ‘three to four letters’ exchanged with No 10 that may be published next year. 

As opposed to sanctions, Mr Johnson and Lord Geidt have agreed to reform the system for oversight of ministerial interests to include more resources for the relevant secretariat in the Cabinet Office. 

One official said: ‘Geidt makes clear the situation is a total mess. But at the same time the fundamental conclusion is that the PM did not deceive and did not break the ministerial code.’

Mr Johnson is said to have apologised for the handling of the initial inquiry into the loan of £58,000 from Lord Brownlow. ‘Reasons have been put forward about why certain details, like the WhatsApp messages, were not put forward,’ said one insider.

Another claimed: ‘There’s enough in those letters to raise eyebrows. The Prime Minister has apologised for some of the circumstances around the initial investigation, which Lord Geidt has accepted.’

But Mr Johnson may yet face a further investigation into the ‘wallpapergate’ saga – exposed by the Daily Mail.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone is under pressure to launch an inquiry into the Prime Minister’s failure to disclose the loan in his register of interests, and the discrepancies in his accounts of the funding.

Downing Street declined to comment last night.

The Cabinet Office, where Lord Geidt’s office is based, said: ‘We don’t comment on speculation.’  

Designer Lulu Lytle was commissioned early in 2020 to transform the ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ left behind by Theresa May in the Downing Street living quarters, and used gold wallpaper costing £840 a roll. 

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner wrote to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone earlier this month asking her to investigate the donations.

Ms Rayner said: ‘Boris Johnson’s sleaze is corroding the office of Prime Minister.

‘The Paterson scandal, illicit Christmas parties in Number 10 and now dodgy payments from a multimillionaire Conservative Party donor to fund his luxury Downing Street refurb.

‘It is one rule for them, and one rule for the rest of us, and Boris Johnson is at the heart of it.’

It comes as Mr Johnson has slumped to his lowest ever popularity rating among Tory members, according to a poll on Tuesday.

An example of previous work carried out by interior designer Lulu Lytle, who transformed the living quarters above No 11

The Prime Minister is the most unpopular member of the Cabinet, according to the ConservativeHome survey, with a net approval score of minus 34 per cent.

Only two others have a negative rating: Chief Whip Mark Spencer on minus 24 per cent and Home Secretary Priti Patel on minus 2 per cent.

Most popular is Liz Truss, with an approval score of 74 per cent. 

It came a day after another survey for the website found the Foreign Secretary is in pole position to take over from Mr Johnson – storming past Rishi Sunak.

The poll found the Chancellor is the sixth most popular Cabinet member, with a net satisfaction rating of 49 per cent. 

He is beaten by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi. 

The poll also shows Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove fell from twelfth to sixth from bottom (plus 16), and Health Secretary Sajid Javid from eighth to twelfth (plus 29). 

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