Top minister insists PM paid for Downing Street flat refurbishment but refuses to say where the money came from

ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt quizzes a senior Conservative minister on where the money for the refurbishment came from

Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not break any ministerial rules over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, a top minister has insisted.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the PM paid for the work "from his own pocket," but refused to say whether Mr Johnson had received the money from a Tory donor.

It comes amid an ongoing row over the issue after claims made by the PM's former aide Dominic Cummings.

In an incendiary blog post, Mr Cummings accused his former boss of plotting an “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” plan to get Tory donors to secretly fund the refurbishment.

“It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves,” Mr Cummings said in the blog post.

Liz Truss insists Boris Johnson has 'met the cost out of his own pocket'

Ms Truss insisted that the PM paid for the refurbishment himself, but could not say whether he had received the money from a Tory donor.

"The Prime Minister has met the cost of the Downing Street refurbishment from his own pocket," she told ITV News.

"And everything that needs to be declared either has been, or will be, officially."

Pushed on whether Mr Johnson had "taken money at any stage from a Tory donor," Ms Truss replied: "As I've said he's met the cost out of his own pocket".

Quizzed again on whether that involved a Tory donor, the minister said: "I don't know any other details than that, but I do know that he has met the costs from his own pocket."

Dominic Cummings said Boris Johnson wanted Tory donors to secretly pay for the work Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Labour said that Mr Johnson needed to explain how he obtained the money in the first place to pay for the work overseen by his fiancee Carrie Symonds.

The government has previously said Mr Johnson paid for the revamp – reported to have cost £200,000 – out of his own pocket.

The party is calling for a senior minister to front parliament this week to face questions over the growing war of words between Mr Johnson and his former adviser.

Deputy Leader of the Labour party, Angela Rayner said the Electoral Commission should do a full investigation into the issue.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

She told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: "Publish the members’ interests and ministers’ interests and publish who’s on that VIP list, and tell us about where you’re getting this money from, Boris, to do up your flat."

She added: “When you see this level of cronyism coming from the Tories at the moment, it shows that – we’ve got Keir Starmer as our leader now, he was the head of Public Prosecutions, he’s got a huge amount of integrity, way more than Boris Johnson has."

Mr Cummings has denied he was responsible for the leak of private texts in which the PM promised to “fix” a tax issue for the entrepreneur Sir James Dyson regarding the procurement of ventilators at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a lengthy blog posting he also claimed the prime minister had tried to stop an inquiry into the leak last year of plans for a second lockdown because it implicated a friend of Ms Symonds.

On Friday, the Prime Minister denied trying to block the leak inquiry, saying the public could not “give a monkey’s” about such matters.

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But a new Opinium survey released on Saturday revealed almost 37% of Britons described Mr Johnson as mostly or completely corrupt, compared with just 16% for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Ms Rayner said Mr Cummings has made "serious allegations" adding: "The list of the VIPs who got contracts who seem to be mates of Tories or Tory donors, this is a real stench around what government is about."

Labour’s Jess Phillips argued the government’s "feet are held to the fire” by her party adding: "The truth of the matter is I don’t wish to skewer Boris Johnson for electoral gain, I wish to skewer him as a taxpayer."

She called for a "root and branch" independent inquiry into the use of taxpayers’ money under Boris Johnson’s government.

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The shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “The truth of the matter is we don’t know the truth and we’ve got scrapping between two very powerful men who seem more interested in who’s lying about what and who’s leaking what than the substantive of the issue.

“That is whether contracts get given out by text messages, whether tax breaks get given out by text messages or whether the Prime Minister uses his pals to get money to have his flat done up.

“Whether I back Dominic Cummings’ view or Boris Johnson’s view, what we need is a proper independent inquiry where it isn’t about two boys fighting and is about taxpayers in our country.”

Ms Phillips indicated Labour would be seeking an urgent question in Parliament on the issue, adding: “Integrity really, really matters.”

The flat's refurbishment was overseen by Boris Johnson's fiancee Carrie Symonds. Credit: PA

The claim by Mr Cummings was part of a wide-ranging attack 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 relation to the refurbishment of the flat, Downing Street said the government and ministers had “acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law” throughout.

However, 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.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street, London, with a box Credit: Yui Mok/PA

According to a leaked email obtained by the Daily Mail, the Tory peer Lord Brownlow wrote to the party’s head of fundraising last October informing him that he was making a donation.

He said that it included “£58,000 to cover the payments the party has already made on behalf of the soon to be formed ‘Downing Street Trust’ – of which I have been made chairman, as you know,” he wrote.

To date, no such trust has been formed.

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.”